By on March 1, 2012

First new car sale numbers are coming in for February, and they are better than the most optimistic projections.  Chrysler Group is up 40 percent, with the sales of Chrysler branded cars up a whopping 114 percent. GM did beat expectations by registering a small 1.1 percent gain on 209,306 units sold in February. Analysts had expected a drop of GM sales by several percent.

Ford came in slightly better than expectations by posting a 14 percent increase in February U.S. sales on 179,119 vehicles sold. The analysts had expected 12.7 percent (averaged.)

GM’s hide and honor were saved by a very strong overall market. GM thinks that 1.1 million light vehicles changed hands in February, the consensus prediction of Kelley, TrueCar and Edmunds was 1.08.  GM and Chrysler expect a February SAAR of around 14.9 million.

Edmunds.com Senior Analyst Michelle Krebs commented on the early numbers:

“What a difference four years makes and a change in product lines make for General Motors and Ford.  In 2008, when gas prices spiked, GM did not have competitive small fuel-efficient cars, but with today’s rising gas prices, GM sales of the fuel-efficient Chevrolet Sonic and Chevrolet Cruze are soaring, carrying the brand and the company. At Ford, the revised Focus has taken off with a triple-digit increase over a year ago for its best year in more than a decade.”

Not just sales rose, transaction prices rose also, while incentives dropped slightly. TrueCar says that the average new car did cost  $30,605 when it left the lot in February, up 6.8 percent from a year before. People paid 8.9 percent more for their Hyundai than in February last year. Average incentives are  $2,468, or 8.1 percent of the transaction price, down 0.9 percent from February 2011.  Jesse Toprak, VP of Market Intelligence for TrueCar.com says:

“With gas prices rising, more than one-fifth of all cars sold in February will be subcompact or compact cars, yet transaction prices continue to rise as consumers are looking for highly-equipped vehicles.”

We will report on February sales throughout the day.

 

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40 Comments on “February Sales: Very Strong Month Saves GM’s Honor...”


  • avatar
    SherbornSean

    I don’t think I ever expected to read that the Sonic and Cruze are “carrying” GM. Who knows, maybe in 10 years, we’ll read that the Volt is carrying GM.

  • avatar
    morbo

    Carrying them where? To the grave?

    Sorry, my anti-GM bias is strong. Warranted after owning 90s and 00s era GM product, but still strong.

    • 0 avatar
      APaGttH

      Morbo still remembers Dexcool, and it gives him gas.

    • 0 avatar
      Rob Finfrock

      Unfortunately for GM, Morbo’s “family” is belligerent and numerous.

      • 0 avatar
        APaGttH

        Come up next, Everyone Loves the Hypnotoad!

      • 0 avatar
        rnc

        I read a book about Ford’s resurgnace in the 80’s (taurus and all) and the amazing thing they found was that they assumed customers hated them and started massive studies to find out why and what they could do to correct them…What they discovered was that people didn’t hate them, they had no feelings at all, completely indifferent and that’s what had to be undone. the taurus was build to undo this and re-capture california mind-share knowing that california influenced american cultural taste. Worked brilliantly (Ford could have put GM out of business in 89′ if not for the latent fear that at any moment the giant was going to wake up again) and then came the ovaloid and nassar disaster…..

    • 0 avatar
      28-cars-later

      Ah Morbo and the Hypnotoad, I love this forum.

    • 0 avatar

      Morbo is from another planet according to his appearance. We are talking about another era here too, one before Obama.

  • avatar
    thornmark

    “….all four of G.M.’s brands posted sales declines when excluding purchases made by fleets.”

    I wonder if their inventories are still huge and growing.

    • 0 avatar
      mike978

      According to their press release : http://investor.gm.com/news-article.jsp?id=/content/Pages/news/us/en/2012/Mar/gmsales.html
      their overall inventory went down from 89 to 80 days. Although in absolute terms the number of vehicles increased. Truck inventories (part of the overall inventory picture) barely moved from a poor 119 to 116 days.

      • 0 avatar
        Rob Finfrock

        So, purchases by individual retail buyers continued to fall, and only a (yet another) desperate grab for fleet sales saved GM from having to put out a release spinning a substantial drop in sales.

        Suddenly it’s 2008!

      • 0 avatar
        APaGttH

        Fleet sales spike across the board at the start of the year – typical cycle.

        It would be like pouncing on Toyota for having 22% fleet sales last month – clearly they dumped a bunch of Yarii and Avalons on the rental agencies – now if they are doing it six months from now – issue.

        Overall GM fleet sales have been in a slow decline.

      • 0 avatar
        Rob Finfrock

        Emphasis on “slow.” Have GM’s overall fleet sales ever dropped below 20% in the past several years?

      • 0 avatar
        TheHammer

        Now remember TTAC geniuses, GM was the ONLY manufacturer to sell to fleets. More Kool Aid please…

    • 0 avatar
      Chiburb

      667,000 versus 619,000 a month ago.

      Graph here:

      http://www.zerohedge.com/sites/default/files/images/user5/imageroot/2012/02/GM%20Channel%20Stuffing%20Feb.jpg

  • avatar
    Gary Numan

    GM has no honor as it is still very much “Government Motors” and will be forever due to the terms of the “bailout” as it impacted the bondholders and continues to impact all taxpaying citizens.

    • 0 avatar
      bd2

      You do know that Ford Credit also got bailed out and that Ford Motors got $6 billion in basically interest free loans?

      Also, while Ford sales went up, let’s wait and see what the fleet and incentive nos. are before we pass judgment.

      The word is that Focus sales are up due in large part to fleet and the $2k on the hood.

      • 0 avatar
        rnc

        Ford Credit did not receive a penny, they applied for holding bank status to access the fed window and were rejected. The $6 Billion (available to all automakers) is in no way an interest free loan, that would mean that Ford was free to use with as wished, that money is only allowed for very specific usages and for every $1 spent, ford has to spend $2 of thier own on the same project….

  • avatar
    PaulVincent

    So when is GM going to repay the taxpayers? Ever?

    • 0 avatar
      GarbageMotorsCo.

      After they are done buying stake in other companies.

      Puegeot for instance.

    • 0 avatar
      Pch101

      “So when is GM going to repay the taxpayers?”

      The loans have already been repaid.

      At this point, the US government is only a shareholder in GM. For the government to breakeven, GM stock will have to roughly double in value from its current price.

      • 0 avatar
        VA Terrapin

        GM repaid government loans using a TARP funded escrow fund. IOW, GM repaid taxpayers using more taxpayer dollars.

        I’m still waiting for GM to repay us taxpayers for real, preferably with its own earnings. I’m not optimistic about GM being able to repay taxpayers any time soon. The Chinese car market can slow down. Opel can still be a money loser. Japanese car companies can bounce back from disasters in Japan and Thailand. The economy can slow down in America, causing the car market in general to slow down. I don’t see GM truly being able to pay off taxpayers in full any time soon.

      • 0 avatar
        Pch101

        “I’m still waiting for GM to repay us taxpayers for real, preferably with its own earnings.”

        Then you’re going to be waiting for, well, forever, since GM doesn’t owe the government any money.
        _____________________

        UST Credit Agreement

        On July 10, 2009 we entered into a loan agreement with the UST, as amended (UST Credit Agreement) and assumed debt of $7.1 billion maturing on July 10, 2015 which Old GM incurred under its secured superpriority debtor-in-possession credit agreement with the UST and EDC (DIP Facility). In April 2010 we repaid the full outstanding amount of $4.7 billion using funds from our escrow account. Amounts repaid under the agreement may not be reborrowed.

        While we have repaid the loans from the UST in full, certain of the covenants in the UST Credit Agreement and the executive compensation and corporate governance provisions of Section 111 of the Emergency Economic Stabilization Act of 2008, as amended, including the Interim Final Rule implementing Section 111 (the Interim Final Rule), remain in effect until the earlier to occur of the UST ceasing to own direct or indirect equity interests in us or our ceasing to be a recipient of exceptional financial assistance, as determined pursuant to the Interim Final Rule, and impose obligations on us with respect to, among other things, certain expense policies, executive privileges and compensation requirements.

        http://www.sec.gov/Archives/edgar/data/1467858/000146785812000014/gm201110k.htm

      • 0 avatar
        VA Terrapin

        PCH,

        The loans you’re talking about are only part of taxpayer funded TARP funds used to bail out GM. GM used another part of the TARP funds to pay off the loans. Bottom line, GM still hasn’t come close to paying back American taxpayers.

      • 0 avatar
        Pch101

        You don’t follow what’s going on.

        The UST is a shareholder in GM. If the US government wants to get cash out of GM, then it is going to have to sell stock.

        For the government to breakeven on the stock sale, the stock would have to about double in price. If it went above that and the government sold then, then the government would turn a profit.

        GM doesn’t owe the government any loan money. It’s all equity.

      • 0 avatar
        VA Terrapin

        PCH,

        Stop fixating on the government loans that GM paid back without mentioning that GM used TARP funds to pay them. This hardly pays back the total amount that GM took from taxpayers.

        GM can use part of its record profits to buy back stocks from the government, but AFAIK, GM hasn’t done this last year or this year. GM can set up another escrow account to cover whatever difference could exist between TARP funds that GM took and any amount that GM raises with a future sale of stock still owned by the government.

        As long as GM shows no serious inclination to pay back what it owes taxpayers, many of us will view GM as not worthy of deserving our business.

      • 0 avatar
        Pch101

        “This hardly pays back the total amount that GM took from taxpayers.”

        Which is why I keep trying to tell you that the treasury is going to have to sell the stock for about twice its current value in order to recover the rest of the money.

        Are you starting to understand now?

      • 0 avatar
        CRConrad

        If you borrow money for your company from a bank, and then repay that loan with another bank loan, you can’t get out of repaying the loan just because your shares might appreciate.

        Shares appreciating lead to shareholders making a profit — or making good an earlier loss — on the shares, but that *has nothing to do with* repaying your loans, which BOTH need to be repaid before you can start bragging about having paid off your loans.

        Are YOU starting to understand now, PCH?

  • avatar
    chaparral

    As soon as the stock price gets high enough. They’re at a market cap of $48B, with a backward P/E of 5.5 and a stock price of about $26. Supposedly the gov’t’s share gets to the money they’ve paid when the stock price hits $50 or so. If earnings rise 25% in the next couple years and the P/E gets to 8 or so they’ve done it.

  • avatar
    Pch101

    Overall sales were up 1.1%. But retail sales were down 3.9%.

    Buick and Cadillac had overall declines and GMC was flat. Chevy retail was down 1.3%, but Chevy overall was up 5.8%.

    It’s sort of obvious what’s going on here. This month was driven by Chevrolet fleet sales.

    http://media.gm.com/content/dam/Media/gmcom/investor/2012/0301SalesReleaseFebruary2012.pdf

  • avatar
    Carlson Fan

    1,023 Volts sold in February. I suspect that is about what they’ll sell monthly in the US for 2012. I’ll be interested to see how many Volts they export to Canada and Ampera’s to Europe by the end of 2012.

    • 0 avatar
      NN

      They ought to just load the boats for Europe and start shipping more there than they’re trying to sell here. They should do well there since in Europe it won’t be so overpriced, gas is more expensive, they’ll avoid congestion charges in inner cities, people drive shorter distances on average and everyone already has 220v plugs. And no political baggage.

      You know, Americans never really liked Jimi Hendrix until the Europeans decided they liked him first.

  • avatar
    TheHammer

    Why don’t they change the name of this site to GM Hate?

    • 0 avatar
      28-cars-later

      +1

    • 0 avatar
      highdesertcat

      They don’t have to. GM died. GM was bailed out by we, the people, and still manages to do no better.

      Even Chrysler, another failed company bailed out by we, the people, is seeing stronger sales since we, the people, bribed Fiat with $1.3B to take that rotting carcass off or hands.

      Unless we give GM away like we did Chrysler, we’ll never see an improvement, nor will we ever get our bail out money back. It’s not hate. It’s just telling it like it is. If not for the bail out bucks, GM wouldn’t even be on this list.

      What if Ford had been the worst company on this list instead of GM? Ford is a success story. Chrysler under Fiat is doing great. Where’s GM? Still in the toilet. No hate. Just more of the same failure.

  • avatar
    mkirk

    I do wonder what is going on here. I certainly don’t see Chryslers offerings as any better than GMs yet Chrysler is way up. Though I don’t currently drive any domestics I am pulling for them and would buy one if they would build what I want.

    • 0 avatar
      SherbornSean

      Been to Hertz lately? Row after row of Nitros and Avengers…

    • 0 avatar
      nrd515

      I don’t see it that way at all. I would pick a Ram over a Silverado(Did that in 2003, same still applies), a 300 or Charger over….well, GM doesn’t have anything to compete with either of them, does it? And I picked a Challenger over the hideous Camaro after one look at both of them. I had great luck with my Ram, my Charger R/T, and so far, my Challenger R/T, a car that gets an amazing amount of compliments and gawkers practically breaking their necks when they pass me.

      • 0 avatar
        highdesertcat

        I’ve been pleasantly surprised by the 2012 Jeep Grand Cherokee Overland Summit 4X4 V6 I bought for my wife a few months back to replace her 2008 Toyota Highlander.

        Chrysler stuff used to be Neanderthal at its best, as in rude, crude and annoying. But today’s Fiatsler has come a long way, baby. The 300, the 200 and certainly the entire Grand Cherokee line-up rings the bell for a lot of people and the sales data shows it!

        Even the RAM has made major improvements and ranks above the dinosaur Silverado which resides at the bottom rung of the ladder.

        But I would rate the F150 of today as even better than my 2011 Tundra 5.7, only because the Tundra hasn’t done anything since 2007 to improve upon itself. The F150 has made major improvements since the 2006 XLT 5.4 I owned and just gets better every year. That’s why the F150 is the best selling vehicle in the US year after year. The RAM not so much. The RAM doesn’t even come close to the F150. Not even close.

    • 0 avatar
      windswords

      A couple of things are at work here. One is that now that Chrysler is stable and has good product those who were inclined to buy from them but stayed away because they did like what was offered/or didn’t know if they would be in existence anymore are back in the fold. The other is that there are some true conquest sales of those who would normally consider another make are trying them out.

      As for rentals, they have been reducing fleet sales. They are not that high now. I see lots of other products at the rental lot now. Kia’s, Hyundai’s, Toyota’s and Ford’s. Also remember it depends on the rental company you deal with. Some feature one makers product over all others because they have special agreements with those manufacturers. If you go to a Thrifty lot and see a lot of Chrysler’s it doesn’t mean that it’s that way at all the rental agencies.

      nrd515,
      I like the Challenger too, but I don’t think the Camaro is hideous (although I’m no fan of the interior). To each his own.


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