By on November 3, 2010

GM October sales beat analyst forecasts, with total sales up 4%, and YTD sales up 6%. As GM would have you prefer, it would rather you focus on the four core brands, which are up 13%, and 22% YTD. As the General’s dead brands fall away (Pontiac as of this past Sunday), comparisons to their former volumes do become increasingly irrelevant. A key component of GM’s October success? A higher number of new 2011 models to sell, which also brought down incentives. Details:

Chevrolet posted a 7% gain (+17% YTD), on the strength of a 54% increase in Equinox sales, as well as a strong start for the just introduced Cruze. Silverado sales eked out a modest 8% gain. The Equinox has a “11 day to turn” ratio, and GM is still struggling to keep up with demand. The Cruze sold a bit over 5k units in its roll-out month.

Buick, “the fastest growing major automotive brand in the US” (GM), saw a 39% increase, with YTD sales up a hot 55%. Buick’s sales are being fueled by the LaCrosse, Enclave and Regal. Buick claims that 42% of its buyers are coming from a non-GM brand.

GMC was up 30%, and is up 28% YTD. Sales momentum leaders are the Terrain (+85%) and Acadia (+65%)

Cadillac, which GM calls the fastest growing luxury brand, was up a more modest 15%, but is up a strong 40% for the year. Sales leaders are the CTS (+45%) and SRX (+27%). Retail sales increases were substantially higher than total increases, reflecting a lower percentage of fleet sales.

Automotive News reports that GM incentives were some $600 lower in October, a reflection of a higher mix of new 2011 models in the sales mix, as 2010 modals have been swept out more quickly than usual due to the substantially improved inventory control and higher sales.

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28 Comments on “GM Sales Top Forecasts; Core Brands Up 13%...”

  • avatar
    SVX pearlie

    That’s fantastic. Maybe they can repay my tax dollars sooner rather than later.

    • 0 avatar

      They already have.
      Thanks for playing.

    • 0 avatar

      Tax dollars repaid?  You mean the $50B+ of (worthless) stock which became a controlling interest has since been sold at profit and the taxpayer made whole again?  Or is that just the little accounting gimmick of the ‘escrow’ cash that was never spent, mailed back in?  Even the most ambitious initial IPO projections are returning less than 10% of the ‘investment’ to the Treasury (>$5B).

      Either way, I wish GM luck – the company is producing improved vehicles, and it’s good to see demand for the product trending up.  Say what you will of Ford, Silvy — the proof is in their sales figures, so the marketplace says they’re doing something quite right.  At the rate Ford is gaining market share (and GM still losing tho slowing), Ford could pass GM by the end of 2014.

    • 0 avatar

      Yup. “paid in full”

      Anything you hear about them owing money is nothing but lies. They owe nothing.

      We owe them for being such a wonderful, honest group of saints.

  • avatar

    “Buick claims that 42% of its buyers are coming from a non-GM brand.”

    If GM says it, it must be true.  I’m sure they are former Lexus and Acura owners, no doubt.

  • avatar

    Wow, that shirt is incredibly clever. It takes a fine touch to execute something in such a subtle way.

  • avatar

    So the Cruze is doing well so far? I assume that means the Cruze will be replaced next year with the new Cavalier?

  • avatar

    I see.  We are to treat old GM and new GM as the same for tax loss carry forwards, but not for sales comparisons. 
    That said, I am happy to see some positive news for Buick and Cadillac.  But a big percentage increase in a small number is still a small number.  The tepid growth at Chevrolet should be of some concern.  This is where they are going to need to start seeing some real growth numbers.  Maybe the Cruze will be the source of that retail growth that Chevrolet sorely needs. But what is GM doing about the rest of the line?

    Is it just coincidence that there are no raw numbers in this piece? I looked elsewhere, and Buick sold about 12k cars altogether. Not a lot. All of GM sold a bit over 180k, roughly double Chrysler’s October sales. GM used to sell 3 to 4 times what Chrysler did. My concern is that GM has now picked most of the low-hanging fruit. Future gains will be tougher to get. Chrysler, on the other hand, is going to see a lot of easy sales gains over the next year just because of the poor performance of the old outgoing models. Ford seems to be going from strength to strength. Chevrolet seems to have caught the disease that used to grip Ford: How is it freshening models? The Malibu is not new any more. The Fusion has had one minor restyle 2 years ago, and the Bu is starting to get a bit old. Chrysler’s minivans are the same age, and are getting a moderate upgrade this year. I am predicting a long 2011 for GM.

    • 0 avatar
      SVX pearlie

      If you have 2009 data, it’s easy. Last month:
      12,584 Buicks
      13,342 Caddies
      33,050 GMC
      124,587 Chevies.

      Not bad numbers from Buick & Caddy, given that Lexus moves less than 20,000 units a month, Acura moves a little over 10k, and Lincoln is lucky to sell 6k.

      GM’s strategy isn’t “One Chevy, Only Chevy”. GM drives higher margin from the non-Chevy product, so, Traverse production holds in favor of more Enclaves when the line is at capacity (which it appears to be). If GM were able to change their sales mix to 45% Chevy, 30% GMC, 15% Buick & 10% Caddy, they’d be making money hand over fist due to the higher transaction prices.

      GM’s doing fine. They’re selling more overall; selling a more profitable mix with more GMC, Buick, & Caddy; selling a more retail consumer-heavy mix over fleet; and GM has less on the hood. If they’re making money now, then they should actually have profits to sustain momentum next year.

      Chrysler, OTOH, not so much…

    • 0 avatar

      svx pearlie:  GM is really not doing fine.  Its low single digit growth is lagging the industry yet again.  Ford was up nearly 20% from a decent year last year.  Chrysler us up over 35% from a bad 2009, and its gains will  be getting bigger over the next year due to new product.  Toyota is in a big slump and had a down month.  GM beat Toyota, but this is about it.  We have to face facts:  GM had a big batch of fresh new product starting around 2007.  But what since?  Some new stuff (Camaro, Cruze, Regal) but what have they done to update the stuff that came out in 07, 08, 09?  They now have the oldest pickups on the market.  When is the refresh?  The Malibu is supposed to be its bread and butter volume car, and is virtually unchanged since 2008.  Where is the refresh?  The Lambdas are doing OK, but have been virtually unchanged since coming out around the same time.   How will they fare against the new Explorer and Durango?  Good question.

      I will stay with my prediction that GM is going to have growth below the industry average for the next year.  This means a slow, steady erosion of market share.  About 6 months from now, it is going to take the Chrysler award for most stale product portfolio in the industry.  Not bad, just stale.  Then, you either need fresh product, or you start selling on price and incentives. 

    • 0 avatar
      SVX pearlie

      It took GM a bankruptcy to understand this, and it appears that you’re slow on the uptake as well:

      Volume isn’t Profits.

      I’ll say it again:

      Volume isn’t Profits.

      For decades, GM chased volume and market share, and destroyed themselves in the process, homogenizing and diluting the brands and product in the name of one more sale, no matter how unprofitable.

      GM is showing much more discipline now, limiting non-profit fleet sales over higher-profit retail sales, and selling more GMC / Buick / Caddy over Chevy. That per-vehicle profit goes somewhere, and presumably, it’s going into new product that continues to compete at the top of the market. The fact that we don’t have a crystal ball into GM’s 2013-2015 plans might have something to do with GM being under IPO at the moment, but one can reasonably imagine that new Malibu, new Lambdas, and so forth will be coming out as GM continues to drive profits.

  • avatar

    I’ve read reports where 24% of core brand sales came from Fleets.


    • 0 avatar

      …The Cruze sold a bit over 5k units in its roll-out month.

      Perhaps not solely by coincidence, I saw my first Cruze on the road yesterday. Yes, it was a rental.

      I also saw a ton of rental Traverses around the Four Corners region. More power to Gov’t Motors for whatever sales it’s able to manage, I guess.

    • 0 avatar

       Okay….Now I’m convinced things are looking better for GM. It took seven posts for someone to mention “fleet sales”. I figured for sure,it would have been in the first three.

    • 0 avatar
      SVX pearlie

      24% Fleet? That’s actually pretty good.

      GM says they want to limit fleet to 25% (vs about 30% earlier), and 24% is less than 25%, so they’re actually doing what they said. Awesome. GM gets a gold star.

      In contrast, Ford says they want to keep fleet under 30% (vs about 35% earlier. And Chrysler said 25% (vs. about 40% earlier, and nearly 60% in Feb!).

    • 0 avatar

      Twenty-four percent is down and under GM’s goal of 25%.  Remember, Bob the builder buys a lot of Silverados and Savanna work trucks/vans that is going to push up those fleet numbers.

      Also, I would still take fleet sales numbers from all car makers (sans Chrysler) with a big grain of salt.  Many businesses, even rental agencies, pushed off fleet sales for months and are just starting to spend again, this is going to create a somewhat higher number for fleet sales for all manufacturers.

      Even Toyota, which historically did little in fleet sales, flirts with the 10% level month after month, more than double what they did just three years ago.  Does that mean Toyota is sucking on the teat of fleet sales?  Or does it mean there is a significant pent up demand that they can address.  Right now, I’d say the latter – for now.

    • 0 avatar

      I’ve read reports where 24% of core brand sales came from Fleets. Ouch.
      Sounds right.  Ford has had HIGHER fleet percentages all this year compared to GM though.  But that is probably different…because God knows…if GM has ONE single fleet sale…people will lable them as a failure.
      But if Ford has 100% fleet sales, people will claim that they (and their garbage products) are the best in the world and a strong fleet number is proof that Ford’s are better because fleets won’t buy crap.
      This site is so hypocritical when it comes to GM and Ford.  What GM is criticized for, Ford is praised for.  It’s like the automotive wing of the Huffington Post

    • 0 avatar

      “This site is so hypocritical when it comes to GM and Ford.  What GM is criticized for, Ford is praised for.  It’s like the automotive wing of the Huffington Post”

      And yet here you are.

      My dollars have not voted domestically on a car purchase in quite some time (since 1998 and that was an unmitigated disaster). I consider myself to be highly critical of the domestic auto industry as a whole. If I had to pick a domestic brand that resonates with me most closely, I’d pick Ford. However, if Ford’s fleet sales start to do what GM’s have historically done, then I’ll start squawking about Ford.

    • 0 avatar

      [sarcasm] If you can’t say anything bad about GM on this blog, then you shouldn’t post here. [/sarcasm]

    • 0 avatar

      24% is lower than the 25% that GM was capping fleet sales to but think about it. In the past, those high fleet numbers came from dead brands like Pontiac and Saturn. Sure Chevy has always been a fleet special with cars like the Impala, Malibu, Cobalt and Aveo but that 24% has to come from somewhere.

      My guess is while it’s not publicly recognized, fleet sales have dramatically increased at Chevy and might even be pulling in a few Buicks (Lucerne and Lacrosse have been fleet cars in the past).

    • 0 avatar

      Among the car makers, Ford has the highest percentage of fleet sales to government agencies and corporations. Those are different from sales to rental car companies. One, the margins are higher. Two, a government agency or corporation isn’t dumping those vehicles on the used car market within 18-24 months, thus depressing the value of that model.

    • 0 avatar
      SVX pearlie

      Regardless of the fleet mix, when 40+% of your product is fleet (Chrysler, I’m looking at you), it’s not good.

      With GM at around 25% and Ford at 30% (or higher), it’s hard to say which is worse. But I think if either company could get those numbers down by another 5%, I think they’d gladly do so.

  • avatar

    Oh, gosh, it would be so much simpler if fleet sales were categorized as commerical fleet (government, industrial, etc.) and rental fleet. If company “A” has 24% volume in fleet sales, but it’s all to rental agencies, well, that’s bad. On the other hand, if company “B” has 24% fleet sales, but most of it is sold to commercial interests and governments, that’s good fleet sales.

    My wife works for a truck dealership, and fleet sales are regarded as the ultimate sale – not only are the initial sales reasonably profitable, but there’s guaranteed service once the original factory warranty has expired. Some of the government sales are good for 5 to 7 years of service and parts sales after the warranty period.

    Commerical fleet sales are good, and if the bulk of GM or Ford fleet sales are commerical, nobody should be calling either company on it.

  • avatar

    Buick’s sales are being fueled by the LaCrosse, Enclave and Regal.

    Only around 1600 Regals were sold in October. I can’t imagine that GM is happy with that reception.
    The 220hp turbo option might help sales, but it comes with a $3000 price premium.

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