New vehicle sales were down markedly in the U.S. in April, as much as 50% in some cases; however, GM’s sales in China are the flip side of the coin, rising 13.6% last month.
GM and its joint venture with SAIC Motor Corp. sold 111,155 vehicles in April. The JV produces Buick, Chevrolet and Cadillac vehicles, according to Reuters. In addition, GM’s partnership with with SAIC and Guangxi Automobile Group reported sales jumped 13.5% to more than 127,000 units in April.
The strong April results were a welcome respite from the company’s first quarter totals. GM reported its first quarter sales in China were down 43.3% after the industry was battered by the coronavirus pandemic. Overall sales dropped 16% in January and 79% in February when the outbreak was at its height.
While the central government and some regional municipalities offered incentives to lure potential buyers back to showrooms, GM and SAIC haven’t sat idly by. They hired social media celebrities to promote its new models and are offering free medical masks to customers, Reuters noted.
China’s biggest automaker SAIC, which sold more than 6 million cars last year, said its sales rose 0.5% compared to the same period last year. As well as the GM venture, it also builds its own brand cars and operates a venture with Volkswagen, which is the biggest foreign automaker in the country.
Ford hasn’t reported its April sales yet, but its Q1 sales were also down significantly.
The automaker and its partners, Changan Ford, JMC and Ford Lio-Ho, sold 88,770 vehicles, which was a drop of 34.9% year-over-year. Despite the coronavirus-influenced drop, Ford’s market share in China rose to 2.2%, the company noted.
Ford said its sales decline was less than the rest of the industry – hence the gain in share – and came about as a result of increased digital marketing, “safe and timely resumption of dealer operations, and customer-focused care programs that ensured strong engagement and sales recovery from mid-February.”
In March, the automaker resumed sales and service operations at all Ford and Lincoln dealerships in China. This helped the company to strong March results, including 40,707 vehicles were sold, accounting for approximately 46% of first quarter sales and achieving 75% of monthly sales levels reached during March 2019.
Ford brand vehicle sales reached 52,937 units during the quarter, down 29.1% year-over-year. The company’s newly launched Escape SUV helped offset some losses. Sales of the all new Ford Escape reached 2,695 units during the quarter and more than 6,000 additional new customer orders were received. Lincoln brand vehicle sales reached 6,096 units during the quarter, down 37% year-over-year.