GM U.S. Sales Increase 8% in July. Cadillac off 26%

General Motors dealers in the United States sold 214,915 vehicles in July, an 8% sales gain compared to July 2010. Retail sales for GM’s brands rose 6% for the month compared to a year ago, and were 1% higher than June, as the U.S. economy continues to struggle with slow – or no growth – and high unemployment rates.

Recent GM sales trends continued though. Newer and more fuel efficient vehicles are selling well. In July, total sales of the Chevrolet Cruze were above 20,000 for the fourth-straight month, at 24,648 units. About half of the compact car’s sales are conquests from other brands, an important development for GM, which needs to attract more buyers to defend or increase its number one spot in U.S. marketshare. The GMC Terrain and Chevrolet Equinox compact crossovers posted combined retail sales increase of 73% during the month to more than 24,000 units. However, the Silverado pickup remains GM’s best seller at more than 33,000 units. The companion GMC Sierra added another 12,600 to pickup truck sales.

Cadillac reported disappointing total sales of 11,119 for July, a 26% decrease compared to last July as its aging vehicle line was affected by increased incentives from German brands. GM said in a statement that there was a significant reduction in sales to fleets. For the month, Cadillac retail sales decreased 26%. Year-to-date, Cadillac total sales are up 9% while retail sales have increased 17%.

Fleet sales for GM’s four brands were 56,357 for the month, a 13% increase compared to last year’s July. Sales to commercial customers increased 5% – the 16th consecutive month of commercial fleet sales gains. Fleet accounted for 26% of GM total sales during the month, which is about where GM wants them to be.

Compared to June, combined sales of Silverado, Avalanche and Sierra sales increased 2%, and retail sales rose 5%. Silverado retail sales increased 7%, compared to June, while Sierra retail sales rose 2% compared to last month – the best month of the year for GMC’s full-size pickup. However, total sales of GM’s full-size pickups declined 3% versus a year ago, another indication that the U.S. auto sales recover has stalled.

The industry will regain some of its lost momentum in the second half of the year, aided by higher supply and pent-up demand, according to Don Johnson, vice president, U.S. Sales Operations.

“There are people who put off vehicle purchases because of uncertainty about fuel prices, vehicle availability and the economy,” Johnson said. “As these conditions improve in the latter half of this year, many of these buyers will return to the market.”

GM’s 2011 U.S. industry forecast, announced in January, remains unchanged at 13 million to 13.5 million units, but the company expects total industry sales to end the year in the low end of this range, Johnson said.

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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