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.