By on April 3, 2018

General Motors HQ

Just ahead of today’s announcement of monthly sales numbers, The General announced it will be shifting to a quarterly model for releasing its sales performance data.

After today’s posting of numbers, one will no longer be able to scrutinize month-over-month fluctuations of GM’s four brands. March statistics (released today at 9:30am EDT) will be the automaker’s final monthly sales report this year. In 2018, second quarter sales will be released on July 3, third quarter sales on October 2 and fourth quarter sales on January 3, 2019.

“Thirty days is not enough time to separate real sales trends from short-term fluctuations in a very dynamic, highly competitive market,” said Kurt McNeil, U.S. vice president, Sales Operations, in a statement posted by General Motors this morning. “Reporting sales quarterly better aligns with our business, and the quality of information will make it easier to see how the business is performing.”

Your humble author expects this to ripple through the industry with the speed at which your Great-Uncle Phonse makes his way to the buffet table. Other manufacturers will surely follow suit in short order.

To be certain, monthly sales can be volatile, as they are at the mercy of holiday timing, product launch activity, and even weather. This Newfoundlander can tell you that two weeks of unrelenting snow puts a damper on showroom traffic. However, quarterly reporting will make it more difficult for analysts to spot trends, problems, and successes.

It’ll certainly result in a huge dump of numbers. In Q4 of 2017, General Motors sold 806,739 vehicles. Parsing and interpreting all that data will be a task but you can be guaranteed your authors at this website will continue to do so, perhaps with an even more critical eye.

The General is quick to note that “GM’s high level of transparency on total, brand and nameplate sales, fleet mix and inventory will not change.” These are good words, but I’ll leave it up to the B&B to pass judgement on that particular quote pulled from the press release.

We will have what might very well be our final monthly sales report for the American market later today.

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19 Comments on “Who Wants to Know? GM Switching to Quarterly Sales Reports...”


  • avatar
    Polishdon

    “Quarterly reporting will make it more difficult for analysts to spot trends, problems, and successes.”

    Just because they aren’t RELEASING monthly numbers, does not mean that they aren’t doing monthly numbers.

  • avatar
    thornmark

    that’s gonna make it harder to keep abreast of booming Cadillac sales

  • avatar
    sirwired

    There’s a lot of merit to the position that monthly reports produce a lot of angst over “problems” (or improvements, for that matter) that are super-transitory. Quarterly reporting is certainly the norm with an awful lot of industries, so I don’t know why automakers would be expected to produce monthly numbers.

    That said, shifting to quarterly reporting allows them to do things like blame late-quarter slumps on early-quarter events (and vice-versa) with nobody being the wiser.

  • avatar
    65corvair

    The upper management will no doubt be looking at monthly as well as weekly and even daily results.

  • avatar
    tonygrantony

    Don’t dealers rely on monthly sales figures to figure out their targets for the month ahead? GM may stop ‘reporting’ monthly figures, but that doesn’t mean they’re going to stop ‘using’ monthly figures. Thus, it’s strange for GM to harp on about transparency when this move does exactly the opposite.

    Also, I question how “effective” quarterly reporting will be when GM produces a bad quarterly sales report. Because shareholders and industry-watchers will hang that bad news over GM’s head for the next three months – until the next quarterly report is released. A monthly report allows an automaker to wash away a bad sales report in 30 days. I’ll bet GM returns to monthly sales reports in five years or less.

  • avatar
    Ultraviolet Thunder

    This is an attempt to mask the underwhelming performance of Government Motors. Despite the spin, this company has been rancid over at Buick and especially Cadihack.

    There is a stench – the company that taxpayers bailed out and to whom we are still owed $30 plus billion in uncompensated funds is now deliberated not being transparent.

    It is time to shut down this company and to sell off the assets and to unburden the taxpayers for good – we are paying interest on this bailout since it was all deficit spending.

  • avatar
    Ultraviolet Thunder

    And to prove GM is being dishonest, monthly sales reports are effective tools when looking at past performance year to year – and you can piece together trends by having monthlies at your finger tips.

    I know when GM reports their numbers, I always compare performance to last year and to see the monthly comps – and it is so easy to spot trends by having several months reports to review.

    This is an attempt to delay the bad news for three months and seems criminal when it also impacts stock prices.

  • avatar
    SCE to AUX

    From CNN/Money:

    “Most industries do not report monthly sales figures. Major retailers used to report their US sales on a monthly basis, but Walmart (WMT) stopped a decade ago, and retailers have generally moved away from the practice.”

    http://money.cnn.com/2018/04/03/news/companies/gm-monthly-sales/index.html

    Walmart is 3x bigger than GM, so too bad, whiners. Tesla only reports sales on a quarterly basis, but they’re obviously lying crooks. /s

  • avatar
    gmichaelj

    Why did they report them on a monthly basis to begin with?

    According to Bloomberg, they used to report every 10 days prior to 1993.

    As I recall, GM “made history” by being the first company to ever lose $1 Billion in a quarter in about that same time frame.

    Giving Sales and Production numbers at a fast pace provides investors with confidence.

    Apparently, GM doesn’t see the need to inform investors or other stakeholders.

    Of course the large scale dealers have been tracking their numbers vs. the car makers, so they’ll just look at their numbers and estimate how the car makers are doing

  • avatar
    SOF in training

    I recall in my young precocious days, I would read the Weekly auto production reports in the Wall Street Journal.

  • avatar
    Prado

    Can’t blame them. Like most media, the automotive media of today has very little journalistic integrity. Today’s media doesn’t just report the numbers, the numbers get spun into whatever opinion piece narrative the writer thinks will get the most clicks, with little real analysis that adds genuine insight into the ever changing monthly numbers.

  • avatar
    slavuta

    I see it as non-issue. Just report them every month as 0-sales, placing them dead last. And then, at the year end, report totals.

  • avatar
    civicjohn

    Well they have now put them in the same camp as Tesla, who never released monthly numbers.

    That’s why they have creative terms like “surge production” to describe their quarterly reporting.

    Interesting that GM put up reasonable numbers compared to last year, but it certainly gives a lot of wiggle room when you’ve made the decision to shutter a brand. Maybe that will make it easier.

    One less TTAC monthly article, gonna have to double-down on “rare rides”.

    • 0 avatar
      Peter Gazis

      GMs loss I’ll just spend more time commenting on everyone elses sales
      Examples:
      -Prius Deathwatch
      -Lexus car sales fall again.
      -Toyota fleet sales Rah! Rah! Rah!

      -Hyundai sales how low will they go.
      -Genesis implodes

      -Germans small cars big sales.
      -Volvo interior or stuff I bought at Ikea

      – Honda Ridgeline gets put on the endangered species list.

  • avatar
    Fred

    I think sales should be reported on a daily basis. You do it monthly or quarterly, people will procrastinate to make a sales. We all heard to buy “at the end of the month” Stop all that bs by reporting daily. Corporate can analysis it how ever they want.


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