Who gets to tell the boss his ads flopped?
The conclusion of Cash for Clunkers last month, weak consumer confidence, extremely low inventory levels and a battered image all hurt General Motors Company in September as U.S. dealers delivered just 156,673 vehicles in September.
When compared with admittedly strong sales a year ago, September’s sales were down 45%. Last year, two promotions — an employee discount sale, and the 100th anniversary sale — resulted in GM’s highest market share since 2005.
If you just look at market share in September, GM was clearly number one with 21% — that is more than four share points better than Toyota, and about six share points better than Ford Motor Company.
Frankly, it is too soon to access the future prospects of GM until October or November comparisons are available. October is the month when the bottom really fell out of the market last year after the collapse of Lehman Brothers in September triggered the Great Global Recession, which is ongoing.
The other key piece of information for taxpayer-shareholders of GM is detailed financial results, which will resume sometime in November, the company promises. At the moment Ford Motor Company is basking in the glory of much easier year-over-year comparisons, which are largely circumstantial. All will become clearer when Ford too publishes third quarter financial results.
GM retail sales were down 46% while fleet sales declined 43%. When comparing GM’s September total sales with a strong August as the Cash for Clunkers program concluded, volume was down 36% month-over-month.
“September was a tough transitional month for the industry, and a difficult year-over-year comparison for GM. Fortunately, the fourth quarter looks brighter and our year-over-year comparisons should look more favorable,” said Mark LaNeve, vice president, U.S. sales.
There were product highlights in September for GM’s core brands:
- Buick car sales, led by LaCrosse and Lucerne, increased 50% compared with August. Total Buick sales increased 10%.
- The luxury segments started to show improvement. Cadillac car truck and total sales all increased compared with the previous month, led by SRX (up 105%), CTS (up 35%), DTS (up 174%) and STS (up 29%). Escalade sales increased 28%.
- Chevrolet launch products continue to perform strongly in the market. There were 6,900 Traverse, 6,800 Equinox and 8,000 Camaro sales recorded in September.
- GMC Terrain sales continue to build launch momentum with a 183% increase from the previous month.
A total of only 1,011 GM hybrid vehicles were delivered in the month. So far, in 2009, GM has delivered 12,555 hybrid vehicles.