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GM’s June U.S. Sales Ride Market’s Strong Upswing

Executive Summary

The auto maker saw strength across the board, giving it the best monthly performance since September 2008.

General Motors saw its sales fire on all cylinders in June, as products big and small posted historic gains to drive results up 10.6% alongside one of the market’s best months in five years.

“Our products are connecting with customers, and we’re in an economy that gets better every month,” says Kurt McNeil, GM top U.S. sales analyst.

GM delivered 264,843 cars, trucks and cross/utility vehicles in June, compared with 248,750 year-ago, according to WardsAuto data. There was one less selling day last month compared with like-2012.

Early projections pegged the industry’s seasonally adjusted annual selling rate between 15.8 million and 16.0 million units, which would mark the best monthly SAAR since November 2008, or a 67-month high.

The auto makers’ performance rode on generally solid pricing, with third-party analysis showing conservative discounting. GM expects that trend to continue as the post-recession industry resists artificially spurring demand with incentives.

“Right now, the industry is very disciplined,” says GM Chief Economist Mustafa Mohatarem. “Production is in line with demand.”

American families are beginning to sense they are better off than they were at the beginning of the year, he says, and the new confidence is driving them to dealerships, complementing a return to the market earlier this year by small- and medium-size business owners.

“There clearly is strength going into the second half,” Mohatarem says, confirming GM’s forecast of 15.5 million-15.8 million industry sales this year.

GM’s estimates its market share in June grew to as much as 18.5%, a strong upturn from 17.6% of the light-vehicle market in May. The auto maker held a 19.4% share year-ago.

GM saw strength across the board, with major sales gains from the budget-oriented Chevrolet Cruze compact car to the Cadillac XTS large luxury sedan, giving the auto maker its best monthly performance since September 2008.

Cruze sales hit an all-time monthly high of 32,871 units, up 79.8% vs. year-ago, while the new-for-’13 XTS accounted for 2,234.

The Chevrolet Equinox CUV also set a monthly record, up 18.1% to 23,645 sales. The new-for-’13 Chevy Spark B-car added 3,104 units, and the Impala large car contributed 17,255, up 3.7%, on the strength of the completely redesigned ’14 model trickling into dealers.

Sales of the Chevy Silverado pickup remained strong, up 33.8% to 43,259 units, despite many consumers likely awaiting the redesigned-for-’14 model that’s arriving at dealers this month.

Stocks of the ’14 model remain low, and advertising for the next-generation truck does not begin until later this week. GM says close 90% of Silverado deliveries last month were ’13 models, and incentive spending on the pickups was down.

“Trucks are hot, there is no question,” McNeil says.

Total Chevrolet sales for June jumped 11.6% to 193,460 units. Cadillac was up 19.3% to 13,929, but Buick was flat at 18,078. GMC deliveries rose 8.5% to 39,376.

GM sales climbed 8.0% to 1.4 million units in the year’s first half.

jamend@wardsauto.com

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