GM 2020 US Sales – Infected by Covid –  Are Down -12%

Ken Zino of AutoInformed.com on 2020 GM US Vehicle Sales

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General Motors (NYSE: GM) sold 771,323 vehicles in the fourth quarter of 2020. Total sales for Q4 were up 5% year over year. GM claimed its best fourth quarter retail sales since 2007, with deliveries up 12%. Sales for the calendar year were 2,547,339 units, with total deliveries down 12% year over year and retail deliveries down 6%. Retail sales for the industry began to recover in May and reached pre-pandemic levels during the fourth quarter. Sales to fleets are recovering – but remain sharply lower, especially daily rental deliveries. Average GM transaction prices set fourth-quarter and full-year records at $41,886 and $39,229, respectively.

GM estimates it gained market share in total, retail and fleet deliveries for both the fourth quarter and calendar year. GM ended 2020 with inventory of 410,875 units, including in-transit units, down 205,148 units year over year. Fourth-quarter incentive spending as a percentage of ATP was 10.7%, close to the industry average, according to J.D. Power PIN estimates.

In 2021, GM expects to have a full year of production of the all-new Cadillac Escalade, GMC Yukon, Chevrolet Tahoe and Suburban. GM has also announced plans to build full-size pickups in Oshawa, Ontario starting in early 2022. GM is giddy about its new full-size SUVs, which began launching at the company’s Arlington Assembly plant in Texas in April. “Chevrolet, GMC and Cadillac set the bar high for these products in terms of technology, refinement and utility, and sales are exceeding our expectations,” said Steve Carlisle, GM executive vice president and president, GM North America “We launched them on time despite the pandemic, and the team in Arlington is working around the clock to meet demand. We have quickly recaptured all the short-term gains our competitors made as we transitioned to the all-new models.”

However, on Tuesday it was agreed by most of OPEC that it will keep production stable while Saudi Arabia offered to make a big voluntary cut. The price of oil, as well as when – or if – the US economy recovers are external factors beyond GM’s control that could stop the chortling in Detroit. “We look forward to an inflection point for the U.S. economy in spring,” said GM Chief Economist Elaine Buckberg. “Widening vaccination rates and warmer weather should enable consumers and businesses to return to a more normal range of activities, lifting the job market, consumer sentiment and auto demand.” We will see. The GM behemoth vehicles are largely export proof if the North American market remains in a recession.

GM Claimed US Sales Highlights Compared to 2019

  • For the second consecutive year, the GMC Sierra had its best fourth-quarter and full-year retail and total sales ever, with total deliveries up 14% in the quarter and 9% for the year
  • Q4 GMC retail deliveries were up 14%, with five models up by double digits, including the Yukon and Yukon XL (up 41%), Canyon (up 42%), Sierra (up 14%) and Acadia (up 26%)
  • Q4 retail deliveries for Chevrolet were up 12%, driven by the all-new Trailblazer and sharply higher sales for almost every other model, including the Corvette (up 158%), Bolt EV (up 106%), Tahoe (up 78%), Suburban (up 56%), Traverse (up 31%), Colorado (up 21%), Silverado (up 15%) and Malibu (up 11%)
  • Chevrolet Silverado crew cabs had their best quarter and calendar-year retail and total sales ever, and the Chevrolet Traverse had its best-ever Q4 total and retail sales
  • Cadillac outperformed the retail luxury industry with its best Q4 retail share and sales since 2016. Retail deliveries were up 16% in the quarter with the successful launches of the new CT4, CT5 and Escalade, which was up 19%. The Cadillac XT5 was up 10%
  • Q4 retail deliveries of the Buick Enclave were up 21% and the all-new Buick Encore GX is now the brand’s best-selling nameplate
  • GM grew share of all three fleet segments. Total fleet share increased nearly 2 points in Q4 and for the calendar year
  • Sales to small businesses were up 27% in Q4 and up 5% for the full year

GM Canada also increased market share in 2020, up an estimated 0.7 pts from 2019. Chevrolet, Buick, GMC and Cadillac dealers sold 56,966 vehicles in the fourth quarter, with Q4 total sales up 7.1% year-over-year, and Q4 retail deliveries up 7.2%. Sales for the calendar year totaled 218,501 units, with 2020 deliveries down 14.9% in total and down 7.6%in retail versus 2019.

About Ken Zino

Ken Zino is an auto industry veteran with global experience in print, broadcast and electronic media. He has auto testing, marketing, public relations and communications expertise garnered while working in Asia, Europe and the U.S.
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