May 2015 Was GM's Best Month Since 2008, Pickup Trucks Just As Important Now As Then

Timothy Cain
by Timothy Cain
may 2015 was gm s best month since 2008 pickup trucks just as important now as then

General Motors increased their share of America’s full-size pickup truck market from 35.5% in May 2014 to 38.1% in May 2015.

Grabbing hold of an opportunity presented by Ford’s F-150 supply constraints and consequent 10% overall F-Series decline, U.S. sales of the Chevrolet Silverado jumped 11%; GMC Sierra sales increased 4%. The full-size pickup truck market was up just 1.1%, year-over-year.

With such strong Silverado sales and modest Sierra improvement, May 2015 became the eighth month out of the last ten – and the third month this year – in which GM’s full-size trucks combined to outsell the Ford F-Series. Year-to-date, they lead the Ford by 4,497 units.

Growth from the company’s pickup trucks was essential last month as large sections of GM’s lineup faced sharply declining sales. The whole car division slid 13%, a loss of more than 14,000 sales. GM’s six full-size, truck-based SUVs plunged 19% compared with May 2014, a decrease of 4,609 sales. By way of the fleet-only Chevrolet Captiva Sport’s disappearance, GM lost 6,202 sales, year-over-year. GM’s three commercial vans combined for a severe 33% decline, equal to 4,544 fewer sales from the Express, Savana, and City Express.

Yet GM’s total volume increased 3% and the automaker’s market share grew marginally from 17.7% in May 2014 to 17.9% in May 2015. Not since August 2008 has GM’s monthly U.S. volume been this high.

But there are a number of significant differences between August of seven years ago and May of this year. In the former, you were trying to learn the words to Paper Planes, and just before August 2008 sales figures were released, society as a whole was learning who Sarah Palin is. And 15% of GM’s 307,285 U.S. sales were produced by dead brands: Pontiac, Saturn, and Saab.

Rather than learning song lyrics in May 2015, you were trying to figure out what a subcompact crossover really is and trying to figure out how to say farewell to David Letterman.

Yet some other factors haven’t been so severely altered. In August 2008, GM sold 85,953 pickup trucks, 28% of the company’s total volume. GM pickup truck sales in May 2015 totalled 82,361 units, or – you guessed it – 28% of the company’s total volume. (As an aside, GM owned 24.6% of the U.S. auto market in August 2008.)

Of course, full-size pickups aren’t the only products deserving of credit for propping up General Motors in May. Indeed, midsize pickup trucks did their fair share, too.

The Chevrolet Colorado and GMC Canyon, launched last fall, were nonexistent at this time a year ago but added 11,782 sales to the GM tally in May 2015. For this second-generation Colorado, it was the best month yet and a continuation of a consistent upward trend. For its Canyon twin, May was similarly the best month yet; 15% better than the previous peak in February.

The midsize truck twins and full-size truck twins therefore added 17,387 more sales to GM’s bottom line in May 2015, a month in which the automaker’s other products combined for an 8,534-unit, 3.9% loss.

Other models contributing to GM’s growth in May 2015, modestly or meaningfully, include the Buick Enclave, Buick Encore, Cadillac ELR, Cadillac Escalade ESV, Cadillac SRX, Chevrolet Corvette, Chevrolet Malibu, Chevrolet Sonic, Chevrolet City Express, Chevrolet Equinox, Chevrolet Traverse, Chevrolet Trax, GMC Acadia, and GMC Terrain.

Timothy Cain is the founder of, which obsesses over the free and frequent publication of U.S. and Canadian auto sales figures. Follow on Twitter @goodcarbadcar and on Facebook.

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  • Big Al from Oz Big Al from Oz on Jun 16, 2015

    I do agree with much of what Tresmonos stated. I also believe that Ford is also facing other challenges with the new aluminium f-150, as I've been watching as close as I can what's going on with the vehicle. I do believe that Ford will not make up for the lost sales as the new F-150 will not be as popular as the older one. This is primarily due to it's newness and acceptance by the pickup buying public. Many of the people that are attracted to Ford will buy a GM pickup as an alternative over a Ram. Ford will lose some loyalty to GM and get will not have this for a decade or two. Add to the mix the Colorado Canyon and this really opens up the difference between GM and Ford. Irrespective of the dumbass comments regarding midsizers that are dispersed on these American orientated sites the Colorado Canyon are raking in the cash for GM, probably with better profits than their full size GM counterparts. Ford, even with a supply of chassis frames will take some doing to overcome GMs current position. With the up and coming Titan and even the Tacoma, will pressure Ford more so than GM because of GMs recent pickup sales improvement. If the Taco can be as refined as the Colorado Canyon this will pressure some of the 1/2 ton V6 sales. The Titan XD will stagnate HD growth as well. With the aluminium HDs coming out I do believe some of the problems encountered by the aluminium F-150 will present itself with them. A Titan XD with a 5 litre Cummins will hit the sweet spot with many who want to tow relatively large trailers. The Titan will take some of the "SUV" type HD customers. I hope the Tundra comes up with a XD style pickup with a decent diesel as well. This would then have a much larger impact on the traditional HD manufacturers.

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    • Bball40dtw Bball40dtw on Jun 16, 2015

      @RobertRyan I never said it was hurting them. The GMTKXX is the most profitable thing GM builds though.

  • APaGttH APaGttH on Jun 16, 2015

    So lets recap. When GM ramped up production on GMT900 during the last refresh, they were doomed because they were channel stuffing to hide bad numbers, and the predictions from the B&B is those 2013 trucks would finally be sold through in 2015, after GMs second bankruptcy, at 50 cents on the dollar. Then GM was doomed because no one wanted the next generation GMT-900 because sales were weak, and the prices were too high, and Ford would destroy them. So they were doomed. Now the B&B is saying GM is doomed because they are selling too many pickup trucks and gaining market share because the F-150 is production constrained, and Bob the contractor needs a new truck. So now GM is doomed because they are "dependent" on selling trucks, look at their car business. Never mind that Timothy Cain posted how car sales continue to decline across the entire market as a percentage of overall sales. Gee? Why is that? Could it be that gas is cheap and there is a growing construction boom across the country and the predicted regional recession (yours truly included) in the oil patches hasn't materialized (which isn't to say it is happy times)? Don't these events usually create more truck sales from both consumers and commercial buyers? Isn't Toyota Tundra and Tacoma sales also up up up - along with RAM? Isn't Honda getting ready to release a new Ridgeline? Didn't we cross over the point where more CUVs/SUVs are being sold than sedans as an industry whole about 18 months ago? Nothing to see here people -- GMs line up is far more diversified with stronger products outside of trucks than it was in 2007, and it is four brands lighter.

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    • Scoutdude Scoutdude on Jun 17, 2015

      @ Lou you are correct, the upfitting equipment is another reason that many fleets are brand loyal the savings can really add up if they are able to directly transfer the equipment to the new truck.

  • IH_Fever Another day, more bloviating between the poor downtrodden union leeches and the corporate thieves. But at least pantsuit guy got a nice new shirt.
  • IH_Fever I can't wait to see an Escalade on 24"s blow the brakes off of the competition!
  • Redapple2 Why does anyone have to get permission to join? Shouldnt the rules to race in a league be straight forward like. Build the car to the specs. Pay the race entry fee. Set the starting grid base on time trials.?Why all the BS?I cant watch F1 any more. No refuel. Must use 2 different types of tires. Rare passing. Same team wins every week. DRS only is you are this close and on and on with more BS. Add in the skysports announcer that sounds he is yelling for the whole 90 minutes at super fast speed. I m done. IMSA only for me.
  • Redapple2 Barra at evil GM is not worth 20 mill/ yr but dozens (hundreds) of sports players are. Got it. OK.
  • Dusterdude @SCE to AUX , agree CEO pay would equate to a nominal amount if split amongst all UAW members . My point was optics are bad , both total compensation and % increases . IE for example if Mary Barra was paid $10 million including merit bonuses , is that really underpaid ?