GM's July 2014 SUV Strength

Timothy Cain
by Timothy Cain
gm s july 2014 suv strength

U.S. sales of General Motors passenger cars slid 3.8% in July 2014. This 3348-unit loss was created in large part by the Chevrolet Cruze’s 4521-unit decline and the Impala’s 3279-unit slide, decreases which were not completely offset by smaller gains from the Malibu, Sonic, Camaro, Corvette, and Buick’s LaCrosse.

Despite a 5.5% boost in July volume from the GMC Sierra, GM pickup truck sales slid 1.6% as Silverado volume remained level and the company lost 1907 pickup sales from nameplates which are either defunct or have not yet returned.

Yet overall GM sales grew at pace with the market’s fast 9% clip in July. How?

Commercial vans, that’s how.

Yes, really.

But only in part.

Combined sales of the Chevrolet Express and GMC Savana reportedly rose 64.5% to 11,466 units, or 4.5% of GM’s volume. The Express and Savana owned 34.9% of America’s commercial van category in July 2014, up from 29.4% a year ago. (Ford is currently in a transition phase as the E-Series gets set to depart and the Transit slowly takes over.)

In truth, GM’s SUVs and crossovers played the starring role in July. Total sales from GM’s 14 utility vehicle nameplates rose 28% to 100,122 units, or 39.1% of GM’s total July volume, up from 33.4% in July 2013.

The Chevrolet Equinox, GMC Terrain, and fleet-friendly Chevrolet Captiva Sport generated four out of every ten GM SUV/crossover sales. The Lambda-platform trio – Acadia, Enclave, Traverse – brought in another 23%. The truck-based group of six full-size SUVs produced 28% of the SUV/crossover tally, leaving another 9% for the Buick Encore and Cadillac SRX. Among these 14 nameplates, only the SRX (down 7% in July but up 16% year-to-date) and the Chevrolet Suburban (down 16% in July but up 3% YTD) recorded year-over-year declines.

Thanks to its Jeep brand, Chrysler Group/FCA is another big SUV seller. Five Jeeps, plus the Dodge Durango and Journey, generated 71,553 July sales, up 33% from a pre-Cherokee July 2013.

Ford and Lincoln combined for a 17% increase to 64,951 SUV/crossover units.

Toyota, with 11,861 Lexus LX and GX and RX sales included, reported a 61,807-unit utility vehicle July, 25% jump. American Honda sold 49,277 utility vehicles. Nissan and Infiniti, Juke included, reported 36,751 utility vehicle sales.

What of history? In July 2004, General Motors sold 136,263 SUVs from eight different brands. At that time, however, this equalled 30% of GM’s July 2004 volume. Also at that time, GM’s full-size SUVs, including the Hummer H1 and H2, accounted for 43% of the company’s overall utility vehicle sales tally.

In calendar year 2004, the second, third, and tenth-best-selling SUVs in America were GM products, TrailBlazer, Tahoe, and Envoy, respectively. Through the first seven months of 2014, GM has claimed the third (Equinox), 14th (Traverse), 15th (Terrain), and 20th (Tahoe) positions.

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  • Dal20402 Dal20402 on Aug 07, 2014

    So GM's crossovers are going crazy because crossovers in general are going crazy, and its truck-based SUVs are going crazy because there's a new generation. This seems very unsurprising. I wonder how many more generations it will take for the truck-based SUVs to reach an infinite exterior size/interior space ratio. Each generation gets bigger on the outside, and the latest one is smaller on the inside than ever because of the new 3rd-row design. They really are some of the worst-packaged vehicles on the market.

    • Dan Dan on Aug 07, 2014

      The month on month figures look great because last July was horrible. The Equinox/Terrain are up 2% year on year. This while the cute ute segment is up 19% year on year. The Lambda trio is down 4%, which is more acceptable in a three row segment that's essentially flat. Not crazy. Because these vehicles are old and were also-rans even when they were new.

  • Chicagoland Chicagoland on Aug 07, 2014

    Some wonder why GM sales are not hurting from the recall of switches. But GM trucks having a good rep, compared to their compact cars. As Steve Lang says, Ford/GM trucks last and last, and most loyal customers have never driven a Cobalt.

  • Alan The Prado shouldn't have the Landcruiser name attached. It isn't a Landcruiser as much as a Tacoma or 4 Runner or a FJ Cruiser. Toyota have used the Landcruiser name as a marketing exercise for years. In Australia the RAV4 even had Landcruiser attached years ago! The Toyota Landcruiser is the Landcruiser, not a tarted up Tacoma wagon.Here a GX Prado cost about $61k before on roads, this is about $41k USD. This is a 2.8 diesel 4x4 with all the off road tricky stuff, plus AC, power windows, etc. I'm wondering if Toyota will perform the Nissan Armada treatment on it and debase the Prado. The Patrol here is actually as capable and possibly more capable than the Landcruiser off road (according to some reviews). The Armada was 'muricanised and the off road ability was reduced a lot. Who ever heard of a 2 wheel drive Patrol.Does the US need the Prado? Why not. Another option to choose from built by Toyota that is overpriced and uses old tech.My sister had a Prado Grande, I didn't think much of it. It was narrow inside and not that comfortable. Her Grand Cherokee was more comfortable and now her Toureg is even more comfortable, but you can still feel the road in the seat of your pants and ears.
  • Jeffrey No tis vehicle doen't need to come to America. The market if flooded in this segment what we need are fun affordable vehicles.
  • Nrd515 I don't really see the point of annual inspections, especially when the car is under 3 years (warranty) old. Inspections should be safety related, ONLY, none of the nonsensical CA ARB rules that end up being something like, "Your air intake doesn't have an ARB sticker on it, so you have to remove it and buy one just like it that does have the ARB sticker on it!". If the car or whatever isn't puking smoke out of it, and it doesn't make your eyes water, like an old Chevy Bel-Air I was behind on Wed did, it's fine. I was stuck in traffic behind that old car, and wow, the gasoline smell was super potent. It was in nice shape, but man, it was choking me. I was amused by the 80 something old guy driving it, he even had a hat with a feather in it, THE sign of someone you don't want to be driving anywhere near you.
  • Lou_BC "15mpg EPA" The 2023 ZR2 Colorado is supposed to be 16 mpg
  • ToolGuy "The more aerodynamic, organic shape of the Mark VIII meant ride height was slightly lower than before at 53.6 inches, over 54.2” for the Mark VII."• I am not sure that ride height means what you think it means.Elaboration: There is some possible disagreement about what "ride height" refers to. Some say ground clearance, some say H point (without calling it that), some say something else. But none of those people would use a number of over 4 feet for a stock Mark anything.Then you go on to use it correctly ("A notable advancement in the Mark VIII’s suspension was programming to lower the ride height slightly at high speeds, which assisted fuel economy via improved aerodynamics.") so what do I know. Plus, I ended a sentence with a preposition. 🙂