By on March 2, 2010

With rumors of another GM executive shakeup flying thick and fast, we expected a downright miserable sales performance from The General in February. By the year-over-year numbers [full release here, sales numbers in PDF format here], there’s no such flow of red tape, as GM’s four “core brands” gained 32 percent and total sales (including Hummer, Pontiac, Saab and Saturn) were up 11.5 percent. But that’s in comparison to February of 2009, when GM’s sales were down 53 percent from the year earlier. In short, GM appears to have hit bottom in terms of volume, but it still has yet to recover to anything close to 2008 volume.

One thing is for certain: the departure of Cadillac’s Bryan Nesbitt was not a coincidence. Cadillac’s SRX sold 3,542 units, not only obliterating its predecessor but also outselling the rest of the brand’s models. And that’s where the good news ends. CTS volume fell to 2,690 units, a 17.5 percent drop. DTS fell to 611 units, while Escalades held fairly steady at around 2,000 units (across the three body styles). Overall, Cadillac’s volume fell below 10,000 units, which may well have been a cut-off point for Nesbitt’s tenure as head of the brand.

Buick also remains under the 10k volume mark, despite a 163 percent increase in LaCrosse volume driving a 47.2 percent overall increase.

Chevrolet sales were up 32.4 percent on strong showings from Equinox (+132.8%, 8,061 units), Cobalt (+69.5 %, 14,101 units), Impala (+50%, 11,740 units), Malibu (31.6%, 15,150 units) and Camaro (6,482 units). Pickups and full-size SUVs were stagnant at best, with even the Lambda-based Traverse declining.

GMC sales improved 26 percent, largely on the back of 3,789 Terrain sales and a 36 percent bump in Acadia sales. Sierra and Yukon were largely stagnant.

Chevrolet was by far the bright point in GM’s sales results this month, and cars generally showed more improvement than trucks. But GM is still comparing its monthly sales with results from the depths of its bailout-and-bankruptcy era, which inflates the perceived improvement. Looking at volume alone, GM clearly has a long ways to go, especially for its non-Chevrolet brands. Cadillac in particular can’t seem to keep its CTS sales up, and is surviving on SRX sales without a killer new product on the immediate horizon. Buick will have to keep flogging LaCrosses, and will need strong sales from the forthcoming Regal to bring the brand out of its sub-10k volume trough. But most troubling to GM’s bottom line are the weak truck and SUV sales. GM is currently spending money on a major update to its full-sized offerings, and unless it turns consumer perception around, GM will be missing out on a lot of high-profit business.

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23 Comments on “GM Core Brand Sales Up 32 Percent...”

  • avatar
    Cammy Corrigan

    How much of all these sales were fleet?

    Last month, GM increased their sales to fleets, as did Ford.

  • avatar

    The CTS is Cadillac’s core vehicle right now. They sold 17% LESS than last year, with TWO new bodystyles. No wonder Nesbitt got canned.

  • avatar

    The Cadillac numbers look bad, but I wonder how Acura, BMW, Infiniti, Lexus, Audi and Mercedes performed. In particular, how did the 3-Series, C-Class, TL and other competitors perform? From what I’ve seen, those tend to be bought by people who were “stretching” their finances to get a vehicle with a prestigious nameplate, and those are the people who have been really hammered in this recession.

  • avatar

    Ford is up a whopping 43%! GM’s performance was lackluster at best in comparison. Ford sold 33,000 F-150’s, Chevy: 20,000 Silverados. More heads than Nesbitt’s will soon be rolling.

  • avatar

    Where in the world did that picture come from? What’s with the guy standing there watching it happen so calmly? Is he holding a camera? Is this a Photochop?

  • avatar
    Rod Panhard

    Two thousand ‘Sclades sold? I can’t believe there’s still 2000 people out there who will part with at least $55k for a vehicle that screams “I’m a duce rag!” I thought that there were only five dipsticks on that show “Jersey Shore.” Not 2000.

  • avatar

    I wonder if GM can save both Buick and Cadillac in North America at the end of the day.

    • 0 avatar

      Interesting that the two GM models that compete against the bread-and-butter Lexus RX and ES are the ones with the strongest sales increases, the Cadillac SRX and Buick LaCrosse. Maybe Cadillac’s strategy of going head-to-head with the Germans will work with the upcoming ATS. Seems to me GM should hedge its bets and adopt the Lincoln-Mercury strategy by combining Buick-GMC and Cadillac dealers. Buick can reach down in size/price and Cadillac, at least on paper, can reach up. Maybe that’s enough to save both brands and their dealers.

    • 0 avatar

      The problem with that strategy, getacargetachick, is that Buick then risks moving TOO far downmarket into Chevy territory, becoming the “new” Pontiac. You KNOW the Buick-GMC-Cadillac dealers would put pressure on GM to bring Buick down, just like they did with Pontiac, to get volume. So the end result of that may be a re-badged Cruze as a Buick.

    • 0 avatar
      C. Alan

      I have never shopped Buick before, but last week I happen to be in a Buick dealer and casualy looked at the LaCross, and I must say I was impressed. I think they need to aim these at the Ford Taurus/Toyota Avalon shoppers.

  • avatar

    How much of all these sales were fleet?

    I think Autonews is reporting retail sales up 7%

  • avatar

    I don’t say this as a Gov’t Motors hater, though I make no secret that I am… but the (former) General is in dire trouble, if this is the best it could do in the face of Toyota’s misfortunes.

    Once fleet sales (Impala, Cobalt) die off for the year, and consumer interest in GM’s precious few “core” models wanes (seen already by the steep drops in CTS and Traverse sales) what will it be left with? Answer: few new models on the horizon. I can only think of the Volt, Cruze, HD pickups, and Regal due in the next year… and all but the pickups are overpriced for their markets.

    How about everpresent leadership (if you can call Whitacre and Co. that) woes? We’re seeing that in spades this week alone… but hey, at least Fritz is back!

    To cap it off, we have a populace demanding a speedy payback on its loans… while understandably unwilling to contribute more of their money to spur that along? And GM can’t exactly go back to the federal trough again.

    Seriously, tell me… based on the evidence available to date, how is GM not dead soon?

  • avatar

    Shoot, wish I could find the article I saw earlier.

    IIRC it said GM boosted fleet over 100%. Over doubled.

    Same old GM.


  • avatar

    I know it’s popular to bash GM here but I think they will be back. Not that long ago everyone wrote Ford off. GM won’t be as big as they once were but they will be back……I hope.

  • avatar

    I think the CTS’s slide could be fixed by making the 3.6L DI standard across the line and dropping the MSRP about $3K.

    They should also re-content the “FE2” optioned cars.

    I hope Cadillac rebounds. I would hate to lose the CTS to a future “MKmalibu” because GM can’t justify premium platforms.

  • avatar

    GM fleets increased 114% over January and are expected to climb all the way into the summer.

    Fleet sales are keeping the doors open while Government Motors survives during Barracks term in office. Once he is gone and a Republican steps in (not enough UAW emplyees to buy another term for Obama) funding for this dinosaur will end and GM will finally sink for good.

  • avatar

    By the way, that Deville in the pic? Couldn’t of happened to a nicer Livery vehicle. Glad the driver wasn’t hurt.

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