By on February 3, 2009


Ok, 48.8 percent, actually. Or, as GM’s Mark LaNeve puts it in the company press release, “We’re attacking this unprecedented market as aggressively as possible, while offering more vehicles than ever that provide great value and that Americans enjoy owning. Our retail market share is a bright spot, holding steady above 21 percent for the second month in a row. That’s a full point above the trailing 12-month average. It’s important to realize that we accomplished this retail performance as the overall market ran about 6 million vehicles behind where it was last January (on a seasonally-adjusted annual rate) and every manufacturer was deeply impacted.” And that’s about as positive as it gets, folks.

By brand, GMC fared best with “only” a 40.7 percent drop, while Pontiac dropped a whopping 60.5 percent. The sales number also shed some light on GM’s decision to up truck production in March, as light trucks were down “only” 42.5 percent, while cars were down 57.9 percent. Certainly 70 percent drops by Aveo and Cobalt had something to do with that, as did a mind-boggling 82.3 percent drop by Pontiac G6. Meanwhile, news that the Saturn Astra will be canceled for 2009 sent sales of the Opel-sourced hatchback up 283 percent, to 824 units sold in January. That’s more than Pontiac G5, Cadillac STS, and the entire Saab car lineup. And pretty much the only bright note in an otherwise wholly depressing press release.

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55 Comments on “GM Sales Down 49 Percent...”

  • avatar

    ChryCo’s numbers are going to be damn scary.

  • avatar

    BDB: ChryCo’s numbers are going to be damn scary.

    Agree. We’re talking Sarah Jessica Parker’s face scary.

  • avatar

    So, when does the GM deathwatch sta…..oh.


    I’d say more “Bride of Wildenstein” scary.

  • avatar
    Mr. Sparky

    Down 49 percent? Image what they would be without the rumored channel stuffing… Ouch!

  • avatar

    BDB: “ChryCo’s numbers are going to be damn scary.”

    Who’s to care? Does anyone work at Chrysler, any more?

    From GM’s press release: “A total of 923 GM hybrid vehicles were delivered in the month, illustrating the wide range of hybrid product offerings available.”

    How does a >50% reduction in hybrid sales, month to month, somehow illustrate the “wide range of hybrid product offerings available?” Do they really want to remind us that they’re still trying to pay for the development of two entirely different hybrid systems across something like 6 models with negligible sales to show for it?

    Mark LaNeve: “Bob, hybrid sales are down.”
    Bob Lutz: “More lipstick!”

    I can’t believe people actually expect GM to build a successful Volt.

  • avatar


    Sometimes ALL-CAPS are appropriate.

    Look on the bright side: they sold over half as many cars as they did a year ago!

  • avatar

    Yowsa, that’s a 92K drop from just one month ago!

    ONE person in North America bought a Saturn Relay this month? Didn’t production of that beast end in Dec ’06?! Probably would’ve been cheaper to merely crush it than inventory it pay out future warranty claims.

  • avatar

    Ok, 48.8 percent, actually

    GM reaps what they sow.

  • avatar

    Life as we know it is very slowly coming to an end! Enjoy 2009 folks because from this point forwards it’s only going to get worse!

  • avatar
    jerry weber

    It’s all in the fleet reduction. Apparently the fleets are getting cars from China, since no one in the US is admitting to selling to them. If this is a way back to profitability, show me. There is nothing wrong with having some fleet sales, but to have one half as chrysler did is not healthy for any mfg. Are Pontiac, saab and saturn going to just melt away without GM having to pay a ransome to jettison the dealers? Just keep offering unwanted consumer goods and yes, you will vanish from the marketplace. The scary scenario is that soon themonthly drops will come on top of very sick months from last year making the real sales even more anemic. Uncle Sam get the printing presses rolling, because you ain’s seen nothing yet.

  • avatar

    Wow. Just wow. And yes, scary.

    Based on the sales drops for Cobalt, G5 and G6 mentioned, its clear where most of those sales came from….rental agencies.

    Bad bad bad stuff here.

  • avatar

    It’s not going to be printing presses, it’s going to be loans and a huge percent of our GDP as debt. Like Japanese/Italian levels of debt, 90%+ of GDP by the time this recession is over.

  • avatar

    I’m waiting to see how ’08 shaped up for fleet sales. It seems to me (and I’m not going back to check – I do have a life… although I don’t remember where I put it) that GM’s press releases have stopped claiming to “reduce daily rental sales” for some months, now.

    The Camry and Accord both outsell the Impala. Right now, in my area, there are about 30 each, 2008 Camrys and Accords, for sale, per CarSoup. There are about 360 Impalas available in my area. Clearly, MANY Impalas were sold to buyers who, for whatever reason, kept them for just one year.

    The Malibu picture is a bit more cloudy. I hardly ever see NuBus on the road… I’m more likely to see a Camry hybrid than a NuBu. Still, there are about 70 2008 NuBus available (and about the same number of ClassicBus). Since the Camry and Accord both outsell the NuBu by 3 to 1 or so, I’m thinking that a lot of NuBus, in spite of GM’s claims, went to fleets.

    In addition to destroying customer value, GM must be softening demand for new GM vehicles.

    Anyway, I’m thinking that we’re eventually going to find that not only are GM’s January sales down by quite a bit, but that retail sales are off by a greater percentage.

    OUCH. Yes.

    Update – how did I overlook that? Right in the first line, GM claims an 80% reduction in fleet sales. I’ll take them at their word but I’ll bet December involved a lot of daily rentals.

  • avatar


    I’m seeing quite a few NuBu’s on my street. Not as many of them as Camcords of course, but they’re catching up.

    The problem is the Impala is too similar to the NuBu. They need to make the Impala bigger, RWD, and upmarket to separate it from the NuBu.

  • avatar

    MM: “One person bought a Saturn Relay?”

    And maybe there are more to sell.

    I’m wondering when they sold the last SSR. Or, IF they have sold the last SSR. I notice they still had some to sell in 2008 and the last one of those was built in March, 2006.

  • avatar

    Well, at least they didn’t profit (in relative sales deterioration vs. Ford and Toyota) from the GMAC debacle.

    Maybe people actually are staying away out of bailout disgust.

  • avatar

    Ford’s conference call was really good today – a lot of insight into the economy, auto market and why numbers are particularly bad this month.

    GM is hit hardest because they had the most factories out of commission. Fleet buyers get cars fresh off the factory floor. No running factories = no fleet sales. If you want to get a feel for how heavily a car is fleeted, look at the sales this year, divide by .75 (27-30% retail market drop less some minor fleeting in Jan) and then compare that number to last year’s number.

    Chrysler is going to suck even more because not only are its factories closed, but its retail sales are down more than the market.

    A good example at Ford is the Edge. It looks like a little more than 35% of the Edge sales last year were likely fleet. There may be some effects from the Flex, but with a high-conquest rate and slightly different market, probably not a whole lot. Obviously the Edge was 35% for the year (probably about 13-15%), but that’s how January ran last year, and runs most years.

    If you look at Toyota, you can see the same effects in the Camry. It was probably around 15-20% fleet last year in January.

    This won’t work for hybrids and the like because buyer sentiment is driven by oil prices as well (and oil is still really low).

    If you ever wanted to know what the basic retail demand for the various automakers is (with some exceptions, Toyota and Ford had some fleeting), this is the month to take it in because all the factories are closed….

    … and it doesn’t look great.

  • avatar

    Kixstart-Gm did indeed do a lot of fleet in December, Impala and NuBu numbers were way out of line with the industry.
    I wonder if it was a last ditch atempt to keep Chevy No. 1 in sales for the year as the effort seemed focused on those models.
    Imp is down close to 60% this month.

    Fleet was high enough last month to pull up -41% retail to -31% overall.

    BDB-I think the problem with the Imp is that it is big on the outside, smallish on the inside (for a midsize) and has a pathetically outdated powertrain. GM had the sense to keep those two valve wheezers out of the NuBu.
    The only reason sales have looked good for it in recent years is that it is over 50% fleet.
    They don’t need to waste time replacing it with anything. Just dump it.


  • avatar

    The Malibu is smaller and more modern than the Impala.After a good look at the Malibu including a week with a rental we went for the Impala.I was torn.The Impala will be my last new car I,m hoping
    for 12 to 15 years, so resale wasn’t an issue.

    The new car was part of my retirement package and I thought it only fitting to buy an Oshawa built car.The way things are going the Impala will probably run longer and better than my

  • avatar

    It looks as if GM’s globally source cars are playing a role in GM’s decline. The sales of the G6, Aura, G8, and the Aveo are horrendous. These cars were supposed to bring more people into GM showrooms. They have had the opposite effect. Sales of the Zeta cars are especially nasty.

    With today’s escalating fuel price how can the Astra be one of GM’s slowest selling vehicles?!

    Pontiac took a big hit by cancelling the Grand Prix. Its replacement the G8 is a showroom loser.

    The only epsilon car that is not a flop is the Malibu, and that car still cannot out sell the aging Impala.

    This is the nightmare Way-goner and Putz have created.

  • avatar

    “So we could look forward to 283% sales jumps for every model across the board if we cancel all models and file for bankruptcy.”

    Red Ink Rick: “Make it so.”

  • avatar

    So anybody want to start a betting pool on how god-awful ChryCo’s numbers will be?

    I’m thinking down 70% at least.

  • avatar

    akear-if you look at the road test mileage of an Astra the mystery will be resolved. It’s lame.
    It plays in a tough segment where so-so cars get eaten.

    The GP was approx. 75% fleet at the end.


  • avatar
    Gardiner Westbound

    Our retail market share is a bright spot, holding steady above 21 percent for the second month in a row. – GM’s Mark LaNeve

    At one time General Motors had a 60-percent share of the U.S. market.

  • avatar

    I’m the first to agree the Impala is ancient,but that translates to well built in my world.The loaded LTZ is smooth and quiet and a pleasure to drive.If GM was to stop production next month thousands will still be on the road for years to come.Easy and cheap to fix and lots of parts available.For a guy that wants to get a big bang for his buck,and years of service the Impala fits the bill perfect.

  • avatar

    Cobalt, Impala, and G6 got really beat up…Hide your eyes.

    Hyundai sold more vehicles than Chevy sold cars.

    Perhaps a retaliation for taxpayer bailout(???) Or just rental fleet cutbacks.

  • avatar

    Chrysler is down 55%

    Hyundai, like Sunday, is up 14%, all BMW and Lexus conquests (joke).

    Wall Street Journal Market Watch

  • avatar

    Subaru up 8%, the second consecutive month of positive growth.

  • avatar

    Astra is only up because the car was brand new (well, new in America) and only available for part of the month in January 2008. Also keep in mind that the Astra is basically a replacement for the Ion, which frequently sold ten thousand units a month, so the Astra is selling less than ten percent of that.

  • avatar

    Wow, the best selling Pontiac is the Toyota-sourced Vibe. That is pathetic.

  • avatar

    I doubt GM voluntarily is cutting back that much on fleet sales. But a new year has begun, and new budgets as well. I doubt any company is budgeting a lot of fleet sales.

    An big insurance company around here used to buy 300 Ford Escapes per quarter for its fleet. So every quarter 300 2-year old Escapes would hit certified pre-owned circuit. The 4th quarter dump hasn’t hit the lot yet, and I think they might just stick with what they have for a while yet.

    I doubt Machens is all that upset either, they still haven’t managed to move the 3rd quarter lot, even at bargain basement prices.

  • avatar

    godfreydaniels that is…really bad. I honestly believed that incentives would have them at 10% better than Ford.

    Ah well, I’m tuning in to “Fringe” tonight to catch me some good ol’ fashioned Ford product placement.

  • avatar

    Re: GM market share through the years. I followed the link provided by Gardiner Westbound. A recent article in Business Week, claims GM market share peaked at 52% in 1962.(sorry no link) Who is right? Does anyone have complete figures for 1945 to 2008?

  • avatar

    Does everyone remember the first thing GM did with the bailout cash? Incentives and low rate financing. I hate to say it, but I don’t see that much difference between Chrysler’s -55% and GM’s -49% especially given GM’s promotional efforts. Everybody knows that Chrysler has nothing but a Ram pickup to really compete, while GM is supposed to have all of these “world class” cars. The sad thing is that while Cerberus is trying to make a hollowed-out shell look like a real car company and turning out a bunch of wildly unappealing product, GM is really trying (or at least thinks it is trying) and not doing all that much better. Food for thought.

  • avatar

    I don’t have the figure, but a bit over 50% is correct.

  • avatar

    I’m enjoying a Cobalt right now! What irony!

    Where are the idiots who claimed this thing is remotely competitive with the Civicorolla anyways?

  • avatar

    have met him personally four times. LaNaive has sold his soul as he knows better about what needs to be done.

  • avatar

    With fleet sales so low you can see ‘true’ underlying demand.

    Some of their products like Chevy Aveo, Chevy Cobalt and Pontiac G6 are scary low. Apparently, no normal, sane person wants that junk.

  • avatar


    I am tired of you sugarcoating your comments all the time. Can you please just tell us how you feel for once.

    Good God, this is ugly. Dis-Astra and Vibe are the only year over year upticks. Barf.

  • avatar

    Jeffer: Re: GM market share through the years. I followed the link provided by Gardiner Westbound. A recent article in Business Week, claims GM market share peaked at 52% in 1962.(sorry no link) Who is right? Does anyone have complete figures for 1945 to 2008?

    I believe that the Forbes editorial is in error.

    GM’s share of the total market did peak in 1962 at about 52 percent.

    In the late 1970s, it edged towards 60 percent the share claimed by all of the domestic car companies, which would have been GM, Ford, Chrysler and AMC. But that figure ignored the imports.

  • avatar
    Gary Numan

    I believe Pontiac had the No. 3 sales position within the United States in 1963. Oh my has the wide-track and we build excitement division lost its way.

    Meanwhile. Hyundai is up 14% for the month of January by market comparison and as already noted in this forum, the PonToyac Vibe is the Pontiac sales growth leader?

    Perhaps the car buying public isn’t as dumb as Detroit execs and Washington politicians think. Now if only citizens can continue to vote well with their wallets and better when casting at election time….

  • avatar
    Richard Chen

    So, Pontiac will be winnowed down to just one profitable car, and that will be…the Vibe?

  • avatar

    Mark LaNeve would put a positive spin on the Bataan Death March.

  • avatar
    Usta Bee

    Time for Chevy to cut a deal with Toyota and bring back the Corolla based Prizm.

  • avatar
    Seth L

    Hmmmm. G6 convertible anyone? No? Ok then.

    HHR sales are off almost 80%. Great Googly Mooly.

  • avatar

    Have to agree with Mikey on the Impala…they seem to provide sterling service are plenty roomy, are better looking than most cars out there now (which isn’t hard). I officially became a victim of the banking crisis yesterday, so I am not in a position to score any sort of a bargain…but someone should.

    a mind-boggling 82.3 percent drop by Pontiac G6

    How many units is that? I mean, I am pretty sure they can’t actually sell negative numbers of units.

  • avatar

    I’m not seeing the problem. Sales are the fifth highest they have been this past five years.

  • avatar

    “meanwhile, news that the Saturn Astra will be canceled for 2009 sent sales of the Opel-sourced hatchback up 283 percent”

    There in that quote is the answer to ALL of GM’s problems…

    Simply cancel ALL of the cars for 2009!
    Imagine, 280+ percent increases ACROSS the board!

    I await for Rick to try this… I won’t be any less crazy then some of his other plans.

  • avatar


    Feel good about your purchase.

    I have an 07′ Impala with 26,000 miles on it now. It’s my work car. It’s a police package so it has the same V-6 as the LTZ. I would expect the drivetrain to be about bullet proof. I’ve experienced only one issue with mine.

    Be aware of premature tread wear on the inner portion of the rear tires. This seems to plague newer Impalas. The dealer corrected the issue under warranty in about hour.

    The Impala certainly won’t light your inner driving passion, but it will get down the road without hassle.

  • avatar
    John Horner

    ” …. while offering more vehicles than ever … ”

    When will GM’s executive learn that nameplate proliferation is not a badge of honor? Honestly, FOUR versions of the Lambda SUV is not something to be proud of. Building the Aura and the Malibu and the Impala and the G6, all to go after the same customers, is a mark of shame, not glory.

    Re Impala: “I would expect the drivetrain to be about bullet proof.”

    Hmmm, my friend’s 2005 Impala has already had an over $1000 “valve body cleaning” needed for the automatic transmission, and it has started shifting erratically again. Not so bulletproof.

  • avatar

    I learned something new… I guess I’m dumb or haven’t been paying attention, but the HHR is considered a “crossover” SUV? I thought it was a funny-looking Cobalt station wagon?

    I was actually thinking that a used HHR would make a fairly decent little family truckster but, since I abhor SUVs, I guess I’ll have to look somewhere else for a car.

    Is there some sort of CAFE benefit they get for calling it something it isn’t? Does it raise their CAFE numbers for their truck segment or something?

  • avatar

    Impala is a good car, so is G6. G6 is excellent value with rebates. Looks like people are avoiding GM out of fear of bankruptcy and owning an orphan.

  • avatar

    Speaking of the Impala it remains Detroit’s best selling car. Remember, we are talking about retail sales as well. GM is almost embarrassed by its success. They want people to pay attention to cars like the Aura and Malibu, but year after year it is the Impala that wins the GM sales crown. Maybe there are still people out there that want a traditional American car. I am afraid when cars like the Impala and Lucerne are no longer available sales of the Avalon will increase.

  • avatar

    Matt51 said: ” Looks like people are avoiding GM out of fear of bankruptcy and owning an orphan.”

    Interesting how the whisper-campaigns against all of the once proud and prosperous “independent” US automakers, by GM dealers particularly, has come back to haunt them.

    “Oh my, don’t even consider a Studebaker / Packard / Hudson / Nash / Rambler / AMC / Kaiser / Willys, haven’t you read the business pages about how poorly those companies are doing? You don’t want to buy a future orphan! The resale value melts like an ice cream cone in the summer sun.” Of course, later on it was “Oh, my, you don’t want one of those cheap tinny little Jap crap cars like a Toyota / Datsun / Subaru / Mazda / Honda / Hyundai / Kia / Suzuki / Mitsubishi. You want a REAL ‘mercun car.”

    Paybacks truly are a bitch, aren’t they? Kizmet? Karma? Whatever.

  • avatar


    Scratch everything positive I said about your purchase.

    Cause in four years your wretched Impala’s “valve body” may need a $1000 cleaning.


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