GM Is Losing All Kinds Of Market Share, And It's OK With That

Timothy Cain
by Timothy Cain
gm is losing all kinds of market share and it s ok with that

“Has GM lost market share? Yes.”

Alan Batey, President, GM North America,

Wall Street Journal, July 6, 2016

From 17.7 percent in the first-half of 2015, General Motors’ U.S. market share tumbled by more than a point to 16.6 percent in the first-half of 2016.

But, GM’s North American president points out in a Wall Street Journal opinion piece, profitability is on the rise.

TrueCar estimates that, as a percentage of the average transaction price, GM’s incentive spend in June 2016 fell by half-a-percentage point to 10.9 percent, year-over-year. As for the average transaction price, TrueCar says GM’s rose 6.5 percent in June 2016 to $36,489. That is 9.4-percent higher than Fiat Chrysler Automobile’s June 2016 ATP, which also required greater incentives to achieve according to TrueCar. Meanwhile, Batey wrote in The Journal that GM has “reduced low-margin sales to daily rental companies in the U.S. by 88,500 units.”

This explains the marriage of two conflicting subjects: GM’s decreased volume in a growing market and GM’s corresponding increase in profitability.

GM isn’t losing ground across the board. Yet while many other automakers are making up for passenger car declines with booming light truck numbers, the losses put up in some corners of the GM network are not being cancelled out by gains in other sectors.


Consider, for example, Ford. Through the first-half of 2016, Ford and Lincoln’s car sales are down 9 percent, a loss of more than 38,000 sales. The F-Series truck lineup — on its own — accounted for an additional 38,000 sales at Ford so far this year.

Total Ford and Lincoln light truck sales are up by more than 95,000 units, or 11 percent. As a result, total U.S. sales at the Ford Motor Company are up 4.4 percent, and the company’s market share grew 0.5 percent from 15.1 percent in 2015’s first-half to 15.6 percent this year.


At General Motors, however, total volume is down 4.4 percent. GM’s passenger car volume tumbled 9 percent, year-over-year, in 2016’s first six months, a decline of 44,470 sales already this year.

The dreadfully slow launch of the automaker’s lone continuing compact car (Cruze sales are down 32 percent in 2016), Buick’s 12-percent car sales decrease despite adding 4,071 Cascada sales, a 13-percent Cadillac car sales drop despite adding 1,979 CT6 sales, and sharp decreases from the Camaro, Corvette, and Sonic are to blame.

At Buick, the ancient Enclave’s 14-percent drop means overall Buick crossover sales haven’t grown enough to counteract Buick’s car decreases. At Cadillac, transitioning from SRX to XT5 has slowed Cadillac utility vehicle sales. At Chevrolet and GMC, pickup truck sales grew only 3.6 percent in the first-half of 2016 in a pickup truck segment that grew twice that fast.

In response to June ads in which GM went after the Ford F-150’s aluminum bed, June sales of the Chevrolet Silverado and GMC Sierra slid 5 percent as Ford F-Series sales jumped 29 percent, including, Ford says, a 40-percent year-over-year increase in F-150 volume.

SUVs? The market for utility vehicles grew 10 percent in June and 8 percent in the first six months of 2016, yet during the same periods GM’s SUVs and crossovers fell 2 percent and 8 percent, respectively.


Besides the behind-the-scenes work of the bean counters, however, there are significant bright spots in GM’s U.S. sales figures.

Cadillac’s hugely profitable Escalade’s sales continue to grow. Although midsize car sales are down 7 percent this year, the launch of an all-new Chevrolet Malibu resulted in a 25-percent increase, and the Malibu’s midsize market share is up to 10.8 percent from 8.1 percent a year ago. Sales of the new second-generation Chevrolet Spark mini car jumped 53 percent over the last two months, with June’s 6,559-unit result standing out as the Spark’s highest monthly total ever. Chevrolet sold 9,808 Volts in the first six months of 2016, essentially on par with the first-gen Volt’s best ever start in 2013.

GM’s midsize truck tandem — Chevrolet Colorado and GMC Canyon — reported a 21-percent first-half increase to 68,589 total sales, a drop in the bucket compared to the 380,118 full-size pickups sold by GM but equal to 32 percent of the midsize pickup segment.

GM’s subcompact utility twins — Buick Encore and Chevrolet Trax — combine to own a class-leading 26-percent slice of their segment.

But we better be careful not to discuss market share too much.

“In the past, GM was obsessed with market share; today our team is obsessed with customers, brands and sustainable profits,” writes GM’s Batey.

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.

Join the conversation
5 of 111 comments
  • Vetteman Vetteman on Jul 10, 2016

    Buickman I started at a Chevy dealer in 1974 and for many years proudly felt I was associated with the best cars and trucks money could buy . Sadly as the years went by I came to the realization that GM that once proud Icon of Americas industrial might , A major element of the Arsenal of democracy that helped us win World War 2 The worlds largest corporation had lost its core competency . The company had wandered off into buying other companys not in the car business and decided it wanted to earn its money by being a financial company . They lost their focus which has led to the mediocre products they sell today . I am glad to see that you are still fighting the good fight but for me I am more convinced with every passing day GM is still on a path to a bad ending . Importing chinese cars is a mistake and another on the long list of bad decisions .

  • Bd2 Bd2 on Jul 11, 2016

    As usual, a misleading GM hit-piece from the WSJ. Yes, market-share has shrunk, but profitability is up. And as for the former, that is due largely to lower "bad" fleet sales and the age of GM's crossover fleet (such as the Lambdas). Also, GM is in the process of replacing most of its sedan lineup (Cruze and Malibu being recently replace with the Lacrosse, Regal, ATS/CTS replacements on the way). Even in a market increasingly moving to SUVs/crossovers - having new sedan models will help slow the decline in sedan sales (see how the new Civic is doing for Honda). The new Malibu is on track to do 240k in sales for the year which is 45k more than for last year and would be the best sales year for the Malibu in decades. The quality in GM's newer sedans can be seen in the marked rise in sales in Korea (where the Impala and Malibu have proven to be quite popular). GM should be able to recover some of that market-share when they finish replacing its sedan and crossover lineups (and add new crossovers to Cadillac) and increase production of in-demand models (like their mid-size trucks). Right now, numerous factors have coincided to reduce GM's market-share. But hey, hasn't the WSJ long criticized GM for focusing on market-share and not profits?

    • See 2 previous
    • Buickman Buickman on Jul 11, 2016

      @bd2 where did you go to school, Podunk? I said more share, less spend. do the math.

  • Tassos And all 3 were ordered by Fisker's mother. Seriously, given Fisker's terrible record of Failure in the past, only an utter loser, (for example, VGhost or Art Vandelay?), looking for a BEV terrible enough to be a proper replacement of his 11 mile range Fiat 500E, would order one of these. (apart from Fisker's mother)
  • Tassos And all 3 of them were ordered by Fisker's mother.Seriously, after Fisker's DISMAL record of UTTER FAILURE in the past, only a GOD DAMNED MORON would order this one.
  • RHD Any truth to the unconfirmed rumor that the new, larger model will be called the bZ6X? We could surmise that with a generous back seat it certainly should be!
  • Damon Thomas Adding to the POSITIVES... It's a pretty fun car to mod
  • GregLocock Two adjacent states in Australia have different attitudes to roadworthy inspections. In NSW they are annual. In Victoria they only occur at change of ownership. As you'd expect this leads to many people in Vic keeping their old car.So if the worrywarts are correct Victoria's roads would be full of beaten up cars and so have a high accident rate compared with NSW. Oh well, the stats don't agree.