GM realized the pain of too many options when it restarted production in late 2019 after a 40-day UAW strike. In early 2020, before the pandemic halted manufacturing in the U.S., the automaker began eliminating configurations and aimed to reuse and share parts across more brands and segments on a quest to be more efficient and competitive.
But it isn’t just a problem when supply chains break down. In 2019, automakers built more than 605,000 configurations — excluding color — for the U.S., according to J.D. Power. Each unique configuration accounted for an average of just 22 retail sales.
The thinning of automakers’ lineups could mark the beginning of a lucrative and customer-centric trend.
Too many choices on lots confound consumers, increase inventory costs and add to production time at the factory.
Fewer configurations could give dealers more control. Customers who want a bespoke vehicle could order it — or pay the dealer to accessorize it with factory-made and -warrantied parts that could be rolled into the financing.
With fewer trim levels cluttering up the lot, dealers are more likely to have the right, fast-turning vehicle in stock at the right time. That’s just better business.