GM U.S. Sales Up 16% in January, a Bit More than Market Gain

Cadillac ATS had a good month to start off the year.

Cadillac ATS had a good month to start the year.

General Motors Company announced today that it sold 194,699 vehicles in the United States in January, up 16% compared with a year ago, which was slightly ahead of an overall auto market that grew 14%. GM Retail sales were up 24%. Fleet sales were down 2%.

The strength of the market itself was surprising. January 2013 was 14% higher than last year, 27% higher than January 2011 and roughly 50% higher than January 2010 – an amazing recovery trend that should allow leveraged automakers to print money, including GM when 2012 results are released in February.  (Read AutoInformed on Chrysler Group Posts 2012 Net Income of $1.7 Billion and Ford Makes $8 Billion in 2012 – Almost all in North America)

“The year is off to a very good start for General Motors,” observed Kurt McNeil, vice president of U.S. sales operations. “There’s a sense of optimism among our dealers.”

Yes, sales were relatively strong at Buick (13,500 or +32% year-over-year), Cadillac (13,000, +47%), and GMC (31,000, +23%), but frankly these brands are but bit players in GM’s performance. Still, growing demand by individual buyers made January the best month for Cadillac domestic retail sales in 23 years.Cadillac estimates that it gained approximately three percentage points of share in the U.S. luxury market in January, more than any major luxury brand. In addition, the North American car of the year, the slick compact Cadillac ATS sedan, came out of nowhere to sell 2,800 cars, making it the third best selling vehicle in the segment.

Before Cadillac execs bask too long in the sunshine of this minor achievement, AutoInformed notes that in January: Lexus sold 16,211 cars and crossovers with a new IS coming; BMW sold 16,513 with a stunning new 3-Series on the way; and Mercedes sold 24,059 vehicles with a very strong new E-Class on the way, to say noting of the CLA-Class that just entered production. However,  if you think Cadillac has competitive challenges as I do, look at Lincoln with its sales of 4,200 re-badged Fords in January. (Read AutoInformed on BMW Shows a “Concept” 4-Series at NAIAS and Mercedes-Benz E-Class and CLA-Class Unveiled in Detroit )

The real survival fight at GM involves the Bowtie brand. Chevrolet at 137,304 – worth 70% of GM’s sales – was up only 11%, lagging the overall U.S. auto market recovery. Chevy clearly needs to do better, and this is the year to prove it can. During 2013, Chevrolet will launch the all-new Impala sedan, SS, Silverado pickup and Corvette sports car, as well as the Cruze diesel sedan and the tiny Spark EV.

The pickup truck is a make or break deal for GM since the current Silverado and its GMC brother are the oldest offerings in the marketplace at a time when the housing market and truck sales are recovering.

Highlights

Jan 2013

Jan  2012

Jan Retail

vs 2012

Chevrolet

137,304

10.9%

92,394

18.2%

GMC

30,816

23.4%

28,464

31.5%

Buick

13,463

31.9%

12,418

30.4%

Cadillac

13,116

47.0%

12,341

47.4%

Total GM

194,699

15.9%

145,617

23.7%

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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