Government Motors may be outsold by Ford in February

This is not a question of "Oh - How the Mighty Have Fallen." Rather, it is a matter of "Geez - what'd you expect, Nimrod?"

Detroit Free Press:

If you feel the Earth shift on its axis Friday, look to Dearborn for the cause.

Ford may outsell General Motors in the U.S. in March, according to Edmunds'

That almost never happens. GM fell behind in February 2010 -- after its bankruptcy -- and on a handful of occasions in decades past when strikes crippled its output.

Excluding force majeure disruptions like that, Ford hasn't outsold GM regularly since the heyday of the Model T.

Both automakers will report their sales Friday, April 1, but this is no April Fools' joke. It's a testament to the strength of key Ford models like the F-series, Fusion and Escape, and a reminder there's a price to pay when automakers overindulge in sales incentives.

If you're keeping track of such things, the "heyday" of the Model-T was about 80 years ago.

GM's high incentives dismayed other automakers in January and February. The overall market was healthy and growing. They couldn't figure out why GM was throwing money at it. Edmunds estimates GM spent just more than $3,800 in incentives on each vehicle it sold those months, well above the industry average.

GM executives say they opened the checkbook in January and February to get the year off to a good start and to retain owners whose leases were ending. They succeeded, but at the cost of a slow start to the spring. High incentives can pull sales forward, convincing people who would've bought your car anyway in a month or two to get it now.

This is why "Cash for Clunkers II" is being readied. GM, who wanted a 2011 run of 60,000 Chevy Volts has scaled that number back to 10,000. With 241 - not a misprint - Volts sold in February (Nissan's Leaf only sold 67 units), GM might sell 4,000 electrified lemons this year.

"I'm from the government and I want to sell you a new car" is proving to be a pretty bad sales pitch.

H/t: Doug Ross

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