"While still challenging, the market is firming and GM sales are still tracking ahead of what we projected in our reinvention plan," said Mark LaNeve.
General Motors Company reported July sales of 189,443 vehicles this afternoon, which was down 19% from the year earlier period. The overall market only declined 12%, based on numbers from AutoData Corporation.
However, GM sales executives, ever optimistic, were quick to point out that July month-over-month retail sales increased by 12% compared to June, based on its four remaining “core” brands, Chevrolet, GMC, Buick and Cadillac.
Still, the company struggled in the marketplace as its model mix of gas guzzling, body on frame SUVs and pickup trucks were shunned by consumers who clearly were shifting to cars and compact cross-over vehicles and pickup trucks. While GM, at a retail level, held its own in these areas where it competes, its model mix remains rooted in a past of cheap gasoline and real-estate boom times that are now just memories.
Part of the drop was also caused by a drastic decline in fleet sales of 47%, which is partly deliberate on GM’s part and part happenstance, as fleet orders stalled while customers waited out the bankruptcy hearings. Based on preliminary data, GM might now be as low as 4th in daily rental fleet sales year-to-date, having ceded the market to Hyundai/Kia, Ford and Toyota. Overall, the GM July total, when compared with a stronger July last year and much lower fleet sales this year, was down 19% compared with a year ago. Retail sales were down 9%.
When compared with June’s retail performance, there were several product highlights in GM’s core brands to note, according to Mark LaNeve, vice president, U.S. sales.
- Chevrolet Aveo, Cobalt, Impala and Malibu contributed to a Chevrolet car retail increase of 8%.
- Chevrolet truck sales increased 27%, led by increases by Silverado, Suburban, Avalanche, Colorado, HHR and Equinox.
- GMC sales increased 8%, led by Sierra, Canyon and Yukon XL.
“Assuming the Cash-For-Clunkers program stays in place, we look to continue this positive momentum in August,” LaNeve said. “We offer twice as many vehicles that qualify for the Cash-For-Clunkers program than any other manufacturer, vehicles such as Chevrolet Aveo, Cobalt, Malibu, HHR, Silverado and GMC Sierra. Additionally, we have the best selection of crossovers in the industry with Chevrolet Traverse, GMC Acadia, Buick Enclave, and the all-new GMC Terrain, Chevrolet Equinox and Cadillac SRX. Clearly, GM dealers have the cars and trucks that customers demand.”
A total of 1,487 GM hybrid vehicles were delivered in the month. So far, in 2009, GM has delivered 9,836 hybrid vehicles.
A great debate is raging over the CARS program, aka Clunkers. Aside from the big shift to cars and crossovers, the question remains how much steam does the program have? Since dealers were able to take orders from the first of July, but could not start reporting sales until the 24th of July, there was a great rush at the end of the month, which might not be sustainable as the number of eligible trade-ins dwindles, coupled with the lack of credit-worthiness of their owners.