DETROIT, Mich. (WLNS) — U.S. auto sales for General Motors declined 11.8% in 2020 but showed strong signs of a recovery in the fourth quarter, the company said Tuesday.
GM’s domestic sales rose 4.8% during the last three months of last year compared with the same period in 2019. Retail sales for the entire auto industry returned to pre-pandemic levels in the fourth quarter, the company said. Commercial fleet customers also started to return toward the end of the year, it said.
GM’s strong fourth quarter is likely a good sign for the auto industry overall. The majority of automakers are scheduled to report their U.S. sales on Tuesday. Domestic vehicle sales in 2020 were expected to be off by at least 15% compared with 2019.
GM said it gained market share among retail and fleet customers in the fourth quarter and for the full year.
“GM outperformed the industry in the quarter and the full year by a significant margin because our manufacturing and supply chain teams and dealers helped keep people safe at work and our launches on track,” Steve Carlisle, GM executive vice president and president, GM North America, said in a release.
The automaker’s sales during the year, including the fourth quarter, were largely led by sales of its pickup truck and SUVs. Other notable increases included the Chevrolet Corvette, up 20.2%; all-electric Chevrolet Bolt EV, up 26.4%; and Encore GX, a small crossover, topping the sales charts for Buick in its first year.
General Motors Co. (NYSE: GM) announced today it sold 771,323 vehicles in the fourth quarter of 2020. Total sales for the quarter were up 5 percent year over year. GM had its best fourth quarter retail sales since 2007, with deliveries up 12 percent. Sales for the calendar year were 2,547,339 units, with total deliveries down 12 percent year over year and retail deliveries down 6 percent.
GM estimates it gained market share across the board in total, retail and fleet deliveries for both the fourth quarter and calendar year.
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 transaction prices set fourth-quarter and full-year records at $41,886 and $39,229, respectively.
“GM outperformed the industry in the quarter and the full year by a significant margin because our manufacturing and supply chain teams and dealers helped keep people safe at work and our launches on track,” said Steve Carlisle, GM executive vice president and president, GM North America. “Extraordinary teamwork has set up everyone to succeed in 2021 as the economy continues to recover and we further ramp up truck and SUV production.”
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 especially bullish 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,” Carlisle said. “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.”
Sales highlights (vs. 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 percent in the quarter and 9 percent for the year
§ Fourth-quarter GMC retail deliveries were up 14 percent, with five models up by double digits, including the Yukon and Yukon XL (up 41 percent), Canyon (up 42 percent), Sierra (up 14 percent) and Acadia (up 26 percent)
§ Fourth quarter retail deliveries for Chevrolet were up 12 percent, driven by the success of the all-new Trailblazer and sharply higher sales for almost every other model, including the Corvette (up 158 percent), Bolt EV (up 106 percent), Tahoe (up 78 percent), Suburban (up 56 percent), Traverse (up 31 percent), Colorado (up 21 percent), Silverado (up 15 percent) and Malibu (up 11 percent)
§ Chevrolet Silverado crew cabs had their best quarter and calendar-year retail and total sales ever, and the Chevrolet Traverse had its best-ever fourth-quarter total and retail sales
§ Cadillac outperformed the retail luxury industry with its best fourth-quarter retail share and sales since 2016. Retail deliveries were up 16 percent in the quarter, driven by the successful launches of the new CT4, CT5 and Escalade, which was up 19 percent. The Cadillac XT5 was up 10 percent
§ Fourth-quarter retail deliveries of the Buick Enclave were up 21 percent 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 the fourth quarter and for the calendar year
§ Sales to small businesses were up 27 percent in the fourth quarter and up 5 percent for the full year
GM expects the broader U.S. economic recovery to continue in 2021.
“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.”
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 percent of ATP was 10.7 percent, close to the industry average, according to J.D. Power PIN estimates.