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GM’s U.S. March Sales Best in Five Years

Written by on April 6, 2013

Automakers reported another strong month for March new light-vehicle sales on Tuesday. Sales increased by 3.4% to 1,453,038 while the seasonally adjusted annualized selling rate per Automotive News was 15.25 compared to 14.13 million in March 2012. This March was the fifth straight month the SAAR exceeded 15 million. Interest rates are low, the vehicle fleet is still at a record age of nearly 11 years, and there is plenty of great product to choose from regardless of one’s vehicle segment or brand preference.

Investors are also encouraged to see full-size pick-ups continuing to far outperform the industry. Analysts see this trend as a good sign for consumer spending, housing and for General Motors GM who will have its long overdue next generation Silverado and Sierra trucks out later this year. Ford F estimated full-size trucks to be 11.6% of the market in March compared to 10.5% in March 2012.

GM had its best March since 2008 with sales increasing year-over-year by 6.4% in total and by 4.4% in the retail channel. All four brands posted increases, but Buick and Cadillac performed at the highest level with retail increases of 26% and 27%, respectively. The new Cadillac ATS compact sedan continues to have great success with its best month yet and over 70% of its buyers new to Cadillac. The ATS’ success in conquesting owners of BMW, Lexus, and Mercedes is also a great sign for the brand’s future.

Cadillac unveiled the new midsize CTS sedan at the New York Auto Show and the new full-size XTS arrived last year so it is important for GM to keep the lineup fresh so ATS owners can trade up over time to more premium vehicles. GM’s best performing segments were midsize crossovers with the Chevrolet Traverse, GMC Acadia, and Buick Enclave up 55%, 77%, and 55%, respectively.

GM’s car performance was mixed with the compact Chevrolet Cruze up nearly 8%, but the sub-compact Sonic fell 16% and the Malibu in the key midsize sedan segment fell 22%. Management cited a tough comparable for Malibu given last year’s close-out of the old model; however, we think the vehicle continues to struggle with only 18,539 units delivered versus over 30,000 for the new Ford Fusion.

 

 

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