Reuss: Judge us in mid-2014
GM counts on fresh products to win share
DETROIT -- If you want a true read on the strength of General Motors in the U.S. market, wait until mid-2014.
That was the message last week from GM North America President Mark Reuss as he fended off questions about GM's 17.9 percent U.S. market share for 2012. That's down from 19.6 percent in 2011 and the first time GM has slipped below 18 percent since before the Great Depression, with the exception of the World War II years.
By mid-2014, GM will have executed the most extensive overhaul of its vehicle lineup in its history -- and maybe in the industry's history, Reuss says. That should help claw back market share that GM ceded in 2012, he implied.
"Our portfolio is the very oldest in the industry right now," Reuss told reporters and analysts after GM released its December sales figures. "If there's a switch that you're going to throw and say 'Judge us,' give us 18 months. And you're going to see the whole portfolio turned."
GM's December sales rose 5 percent, to 245,733 vehicles, trailing the industry's 9 percent growth. GM's sales for the year were up 4 percent, well below the industry's 13 percent gain.
Reuss and other GM executives acknowledged that the aging vehicle lineup -- made worse by product-development and investment delays stemming from GM's 2009 bankruptcy -- has hurt market share. They also cited the rebound of Japanese competitors, which reclaimed share they ceded after the March 2011 earthquake in Japan.
Despite those pressures, Reuss said GM did not want to resort to its old ways by dumping big incentives on vehicles in order to protect market share.
"We're always concerned about market share," Reuss said. "But we're not going to destroy the brands that we've built over the last three years in North America. We're not going to depress the store values of all of our dealers who have worked so hard to rebuild their stores and their networks."
Reuss said GM is protecting its vehicle residuals and brand values by resisting the temptation to dump excessive piles of cash on the hood. In 2012, GM had to offer incentives on full-sized pickups to stay competitive with newer offerings from Ford Motor Co. and Chrysler Group, but it did so at levels that were parsimonious compared to its pre-bankruptcy incentive spending.
In December, an 8 percent increase in sales of the Silverado and GMC Sierra helped chop GM pickup inventories to an 80-day supply. GM raised pickup incentives to the level of its competitors, GM executives have said.
GM's major launches in the next 18 months will include:
The next-generation Chevrolet Impala and Silverado and the GMC Sierra this spring.
The next-generation Chevrolet Corvette by late summer.
The Buick Encore crossover by February.
The Chevy Suburban and Tahoe, GMC Yukon and Cadillac Escalade expected by the first half of 2014.
You can reach Mike Colias at firstname.lastname@example.org.