General Motors Company dealers in the United States during August delivered 246,479 vehicles, the company’s highest total in 2009. The August total, when compared with a very strong sales performance in August 2008 from “an Employee Pricing” promotion then and lower fleet sales this year, was down 20%. Overall, retail sales were down 17% while fleet sales declined 29%.
However, when comparing GM’s August total sales with July, volume was up more than 57,000 vehicles, or 30% month-over-month, most of it from the successful Federal “Cash for Clunkers” program.
“The Cash for Clunkers program was certainly a success, but our momentum continues to build on the strength of our new cars and crossovers such as the Chevrolet Malibu, Equinox and Camaro,” said Mark LaNeve, vice president, U.S. sales.
The company estimates that Clunkers pulled 200,000 units ahead from near term sales or about 30%.
It remains a point of debate as to what will happen to sales for the balance of this year. Normally the so-called “pull ahead” effect from incentives of as much as $4,500 is about 50%.
However, Clunkers appears to have added what were used car buyers to dealer traffic and sales, so its longer term negative effects might be less than usual, at least according to normally optimistic sales executives.
It now looks like the seasonally adjusted annual selling rate (SAAR) for August will come in an atypical 14.5 million units, far above the under 10 million rate experienced during all of 2009. It is expected to decline significantly in September again. The question is how much.