Auto sales were held down throughout the industry last month as a result of the timing of the Labor Day holiday, but the impact was particularly noticeable at General Motors. GM still led the way in terms of volume, of course, but its 187,195 deliveries were down 11 percent as compared to the same month in 2012—the worst performance of any of the mainstream automakers. The good news? When the numbers are adjusted to take into account the reduced number of selling days in September, GM did manage to squeeze out a 2 percent improvement in retail sales last month.
“We held our own when it comes to retail market share this month thanks to strong new products, including the Chevrolet Impala, Buick Encore, GMC Sierra and the Cadillac ATS and XTS,” said Kurt McNeil, vice president of U.S. sales operations for General Motors. “We expect a strong finish to the year and more growth in 2014 thanks to new products and a healthier economy.”
Bolstering McNeil's comments are factoids like these:
- Buick has seen positive retail sales growth for 17 consecutive months.
- GM's overall retail sales grew 13 percent during the third quarter of 2013.
- All four divisions—Chevrolet, Buick, Cadillac and GMC—are currently ahead of last year's retail sales pace by at least double digits.
Conversely, GM's fleet sales were down by 27 percent last month versus September 2013, with the change representing good news since it's the outcome of Chevrolet’s successful effort to transform the Chevy Impala from last year's fleet king to this year's flagship sedan. More good news about GM's September sales can be found on the next page ....
September Auto Sales: Chevy Malibu Gains Ground
On the other hand, there's no escaping from the fact that GM had a fairly limited number of sales stars last month, and that a big chunk of the company's divisional growth is coming from newer products that either weren't on sale last September or weren't selling at full strength during that month. For example, although Buick sales jumped 6.5 percent in September, on 15,623 deliveries, every individual nameplate was in the red for the month except the Buick Encore, in its first September at dealerships.
Similarly, Cadillac's 9.9 percent improvement in volume, representing a 9.9 percent growth rate, was based primarily on the performance of the Cadillac ATS—which shows a gaudy 348.3 percent leap in sales, but almost entirely because Cadillac was just getting its new sport sedan to dealerships at this time last year.
Chevrolet (127,785 sales, -14.7 percent) and GMC (29,959 sales, -9.7 percent) brought up the rear for GM, with the Professional Grade crew all losing ground in September. For the Bowtie Brand the 2014 Chevy Malibu does stand out for its strong performance in the highly competitive mid-size sedan segment. Leveraging a significant refresh for the new model year, the Malibu captured 14,487 sales in September for a robust 29.5 percent improvement on September 2012.
But beyond the Malibu, Chevrolet saw gains from only the Chevy Spark (2,355 sales, +5.9 percent) and Chevy Tahoe (5,332 sales, +13.5 percent), as well the commercially oriented trio of:
- Chevy Caprice—514 sales, +13.2 percent
- Chevy Captiva Sport—3,248 sales, +14 percent
- Chevy Express—5,235 sales, +34.9 percent
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