GM sales slide 12% on lower fleet, retail volume

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DETROIT -- General Motors posted its largest year-over-year sales decline in 41 months as light-vehicle deliveries fell at least 10 percent for three of its four U.S. brands in January.

GM, like other automakers, blamed poor car-shopping weather for the weaker-than-expected results. Its sales fell 12 percent overall, including declines of 13 percent for Chevrolet and Cadillac, and 10 percent for GMC. Buick sales slid 1 percent, aided by a large increase for the Encore crossover.

It was the worst January on a volume basis for Chevrolet since 2010.

GM said its retail sales fell 10 percent from January 2013 but that retail deliveries of cars such as the Chevrolet Sonic, Malibu and Impala rose slightly.

Fleet sales dropped 18 percent, "due to a planned reduction in rental vehicle sales," GM said in a statement.

Deliveries to commercial fleet customers, which account for about a quarter of total fleet sales, increased 17 percent.

Although its share of the U.S. market shrank in January to 17 percent from 18.7 percent in January 2013, GM said it expects to finish 2014 with "modestly higher" share, assuming full-year industry sales of 16 million to 16.5 million units.

The Encore, Buick Regal, Cadillac SRX, Chevrolet Cruze, Chevrolet Corvette, GMC Acadia and GMC Savana were the only GM vehicles whose sales increased year over year. The Cruze and SRX set January records, GM said.

Sales of GM's recently redesigned full-sized pickups, the Chevrolet Silverado and GMC Sierra, fell 17 percent from a year earlier, when it was offering big discounts to sell down the outgoing trucks. Chevrolet delivered just 918 Volts, the plug-in hybrid car's lowest monthly total in two years.

The last time GM sales fell at least 12 percent year-over-year was August 2010, a year after the government's so-called cash-for-clunkers program caused a surge in demand.

GM said it ended the month with 780,140 units of inventory, or a 114-day supply of vehicles at current sales rates, including 748,125 retail units, or an 81-day supply.

You can reach Nick Bunkley at nbunkley@crain.com. -- Follow Nick on Twitter


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