By on April 1, 2010

With the industry locked in the first incentive war of 2010, analysts have been predicting big sales numbers for March (especially in comparison with March 2009’s weak sales), and GM did not disappoint [sales spreadsheet available here in XLS format]. The General got big numbers out of its newest models [press release here], with the Buick LaCross selling over 6k units, the Cadillac SRX topping 4k, Camaro coming up just shy of 9k units and Equinox moving 12,805. By brand, Buick improved its sales by nearly 76 percent over February 2009, Cadillac bucked its underperformance, ending up 41.8 percent, Chevy added 40 percent and GMC was up 45 percent.

Other surprising performers? Enclave was up 41.5 percent to 4,519 units, DTS nearly doubled its sales to 2,146, Cobalt moved over 10k units, Aveo was up 74 percent to 4k, and Chevy’s Impala  and Malibu both saw healthy sales, hitting 15,594 and 17,750 respectively. Silverado reversed its flagging fortunes for a modest 27 percent gain, and came up just shy of 30k units, as did Sierra, adding 22.8 percent for 9.935 units. But the fact that these two trucks made relatively small gains indicates that things aren’t quite as good as the numbers would have you believe. After all, March was Truck Month, and GM put hefty incentives on all of its Body-on-Frame offerings, in hopes of moving out some inventory. Though the metal was moved, it remains to be seen how much profit GM actually made off them. Meanwhile, what happens when the spiffs wear off?

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27 Comments on “GM Core Brand Sales Rise 43 Percent In March...”

  • avatar

    People are just feeling sorry for GM and bought. The regret will soon set in like it always has with GM products of the last 35 years. ‘nutcase

  • avatar

    Note in the GM press release there is no mention of fleet sales statistics.

    Chevrolet total sales – up 41%, 24% of those are retail

    Buick – up 76%, 34% of those are retail

    GMC – up 45%, 43% of those retail

    Cadillac – up 42%, only up 18% retail

    Fleet dumping?

    • 0 avatar

      More on Gov’t Motors’ reliance on fleet sales —

      Incidentally, GM’s overall sales increase of just 20.6% — over the pitiful March ’09 numbers — fell short of most analysts’ estimates. Of course, that includes “non-core” (cough) brands.

      Sorry, but if you’re still selling it, it’s a “core brand.”

    • 0 avatar


      The “core brands” won’t enjoy such a rise, if not redirected from the dying brands.

      So, yeah, in essence, if you’re still selling it, it’s a “core brand.”

      It’s like college GPA, if you took the course, it counts toward your GPA. You can’t simply group all you failed courses and throw them away and claim you have got a GPA of 4.0.

    • 0 avatar

      Sometimes, analysts or reporters registered for the sales conference call will ask about fleet sales.

      Check this link:

      for information on how to listen in. If you’re interested in the call, even if you can’t listen live, surf there now and get the particulars. You can listen to a repeat of the call later but I’ve never been able to find the link to the repeat after the call has ended. It has been some months since I listened… La Neve was still at the controls when I could last afford the time to listen in.

      Update: Here’s the access info for those interested: A taped replay of this call will be made available from 1:00 p.m. ET, April 1, 2010 until 1:00 p.m. ET, April 3, 2010. Please dial 1-800-633-8284 (or +1-402-977-9140 for international access) and enter reservation number 21449369 to access the replay.

  • avatar

    This is good news. As a taxpayer, I want GM to succeed, even though I will/may never buy their products.

    But GM can’t incentivize their way to profitability. If they’re losing money on every sale, they won’t make it up on volume.

  • avatar

    There’s a war right now and everyone’s incentivizing. If GM doesn’t participate, these sales numbers suffer; if they do, profits will suffer. Catch-22…

  • avatar

    Chevy Aveo sales are up. I smell a hefty serving of fleet sales by the General in March of 10.

  • avatar

    GM is doing great in some critical areas.

    The Lacrosse is becoming a knock out, the Equinox and Traverse are killing it, and the Camaro outsold the Mustang yet again.

    • 0 avatar

      What does that mean, knockout? Please quantify Equinox and Traverse ‘killing it’ vis a vis their competitors. Vagaries do nothing to help build a business case.

      How much profit per car are they making and how does that compare with their competitors? If it exceeds most other makes, then I would agree with your description.

      Until then, it’s just more smoke and mirrors.

    • 0 avatar

      Do you have those numbers for any manufacture?

      Average transaction price for GM is up and they are claiming less than the average incentives in March. Avg transaction being up is good, but I am not sure about the incentives. Could have been that with everyone putting more incentives on the table, their numbers looked good. I am interested in seeing the incentives numbers.

  • avatar

    According to the FT, retail up 7.5% and fleet up 64%, no mention of last year’s breakout of fleet to retail sales to help put the percentages into perspective. Ford up 38% in retail and 53% in fleet

    Also some noted disconnect btw GM’s incentive spending and Edmunds’ number of $3500 (noted as the higest so far).

  • avatar

    Well, the GM haters are out in force. How quickly we forget.

    March of 2009. Credit markets were frozen. Companies were laying off by the tens of thousands. Corporate spending was non-existent. Fleet sales dropped off the face of the earth. Even car rental companies were circling the wagons going, “ehhh, 2008 are good enough,” and there was next to nothing in fleet sales.

    GM, Ford and Chrysler were all walking away from fleet sales in 2009 while Toyota ramped it up to just under 10% of their total volume for 2009. People’s Exhibit A, 20% of Hertz rental fleet is now Toyota products and during the floor mat of death scare 58K Hertz rental cars sat idle.

    So given that the fleet sales numbers were in the toilet to begin with, big gains are easy to achieve. But hey, keep having fun with the numbers. Ford and GM both had very impressive months – and GM would have sold 20K Equinoxes if they could build them fast enough.

    • 0 avatar

      “GM haters” – Is that how they say, “realists” in your native language?

      Look, GM has been talking of weaning themselves from fleet sales for YEARS. If you go back and look at previous monthly sales blurbs, you’ll find months of trumpeted claims of “decreased fleet sales!” followed by months of conspicuous silence on the subject and the end result is that GM still had massive fleet sales numbes (although, maybe not as bad as Chrysler) at the time they went toes-up.

      And, here we are, in March of 2010, with a new, clean, shiny, lean’n’mean post-bankruptcy GM and fleet sales are the driver of all their rosy sales news for the month. And we’re supposed to be rejoicing in this month’s fleet-heavy sales report?

      By the way, Hyundai is also doing considerable fleet business. In fact, this is also hurting GM (and has the potential to hurt Toyota, for the matter of that). Hyundai autos are surprisingly nice, so they’re putting surprisingly nice cars into people’s hands to try out. Fleet sales are a two-edged sword. Hyundai is cutting into others with fleet sales. With overall sales climbing nicely, a sizeable chunk of fleet sales is not yet doing Hyudai any harm. Would that GM were in such a position! But for GM, all that fleet sales accomplishes is to destroy the value of cars sold into private hands. That’s not helping build GM’s future.

      Remember the Malibu? GM promised that it wouldn’t be a fleet queen and, thus, they’d be protecting owner value. Last I looked, the Malibu was 35% fleet. Many thousands of properly maintained recent Malibus hitting the used market every month… what does that do for the Malibu ownership experience?

    • 0 avatar

      KixStart: But for GM, all that fleet sales accomplishes is to destroy the value of cars sold into private hands. That’s not helping build GM’s future.

      Actually, it’s even worse than that. This past weekend we visited my wife’s cousin in Maryland. In February she was involved in an accident that sent the family’s Dodge Caravan to the shop.

      It was still in the shop when we visited. I asked her husband how they liked the rental Chevrolet Impala sitting in the driveway. What followed was a litany of complaints about turn signals that never work, uncomfortable seats, other minor glitches and a general level of crapiness that makes them miss the Caravan.

      Perhaps if they had rented a new Malibu, they would have been received a better overall impression of GM cars, but that Impala has pretty much ensured that they will never buy a GM car.

    • 0 avatar

      Took a cab home last night. Got into a 2007 Impala with 345 klm on the clock, that = over 200 thousand miles. This company runs 100% Impalas,mostly recycled police cars.

      If thats not long term quality,I don’t know WTF is.

    • 0 avatar

      No, that’s not quality, that’s cheap used parts availability and mechanics that like working on a single model.

    • 0 avatar

      OK srogers…That being the case why woudn’t you have a fleet of Camrys? Hmmmm.. maybe because they are hard to work on and the parts are pricey?

      I look after my nickels, and dimes and thats why I drive an Impala.

    • 0 avatar

      “That being the case why woudn’t you have a fleet of Camrys? Hmmmm.. maybe because they are hard to work on and the parts are pricey?”

      Or because Toyota would rather sell their Camry’s to the general public profitably than to a cab company at a loss.

  • avatar

    Entertaining…. Is the only word I can think of to describe the GM bashers. You guys just can’t get your head around to the fact that GM might just pull out of this mess. Maybe,if we are all lucky, the taxpayer might just get some of thier money back.

    Would that make the GM bashers happy? No,they would rather see an American company fail,while the Korean and Japanese auto makers florish.

    • 0 avatar

      “Criticism of GM” “Hatred of GM.”

      I’d like my money back, sure. In what way do massively increased fleet sales support that goal? Moving the metal without regard to profitability and long term customer satisfaction is how GM got to bankruptcy court in the first place.

    • 0 avatar

      I agree with you, KixStart I’ve been burned in the past by GM fleet sales{ two Grand Ams} But with the Koreans and the Japanese jumping on the fleet band wagon,what would YOU do?

    • 0 avatar

      That’s right, GM needs to be punished!

    • 0 avatar

      “But with the Koreans and the Japanese jumping on the fleet band wagon,what would YOU do?”

      Pick a lane and stay in it. Either go for short sales at the sake of long term profitability (more fleet sales) or go for long term profitability at the sake of short term sales (less fleet sales). They can’t do one method one month and change their plan the next, only to go back to the original plan a month later.

  • avatar

    Fleet sales must bring some profit because car companies have been doing it for years. It must be OK business.
    Besides, if there are no fleet sales, what cars are you going to be able to rent?

    • 0 avatar

      It is not that fleet sales don’t bring profit, it’s that fleet cars flood the used car market and end up having fire-sale prices.

      Which then causes your similar vehicle to have terrible resale value.

      Which also causes the general perception that these vehicles are “value” vehicles, and are only worth having if bought “cheap”. (ie. Impala)

      Which then identifies the manufacturer of these vehicles as being a “value brand” making any of their cars only worth buying if cheaper than the competion (ie. Cadillac vs. Lexus, German cars).
      And so on.

      A controlled number of rental vehicles does have the benefit of providing a ‘test drive’ for potential buyers, but this only works if the rental is actually nicer than their regular car.

  • avatar

    Buick is improving nicely. need more Lucernes, the demand is there.

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