GM slips as big pickups fall, cars and crossovers rise

GM's retail share of the full-sized, light-duty pickup segment fell nearly 2 percentage points year-over-year, though it rose about 2 points higher from January. It said more than half of its light-duty pickup sales are what it considers "premium-contented models."
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DETROIT -- General Motors was the only one of the Detroit 3 to post a decline in U.S. full-sized pickup sales last month, overshadowing gains for its cars and crossovers.

Sales of the Chevrolet Silverado fell 12 percent in February, while the GMC Sierra eked out an increase of just 99 units, or less than 1 percent. Both trucks lost share to the Ford F series, Ram pickup and Toyota Tundra.

GM's total sales declined 1 percent in February. Sales of its cars rose 8 percent, and sales of its crossovers increased 4 percent.

GM's retail share of the full-sized, light-duty pickup segment fell nearly 2 percentage points year-over-year, though it rose about 2 points higher from January. It said more than half of its light-duty pickup sales are what it considers "premium-contented models."

The company said sales started especially slow in February but strengthened as the weather improved amid heavy advertising during the Winter Olympics, which ran Feb. 7-23. In March, GM is offering incentives that it described to dealers as an "unprecedented promotional assault" and will have a major presence during the NCAA men's basketball tournament.

"March is a month that always sees a lot of competitive incentive activity, especially among the Asian OEMs, who are wrapping up their fiscal year," GM spokesman Jim Cain said. "It pays to have a really strong marketing message with a call to action, some urgency around it."

Cain said Truck Month and Open House events that GM is running simultaneously this month will help bring in consumers who stayed home during frigid, unusually snowy weather in January and February.

"Spring eventually comes, the snow melts and hearts turn to love and trucks," Cain said. "We're entering the new month with a clear marketing message, our inventories are in good shape and pricing is holding up very well. We're not without our challenges, but who's not?"

GM's inventories increased 3 percent in terms of volume since the end of January, to 805,769 units, but February's improved selling rate resulted in a lower days' supply figure. GM had an 87-day supply as of March 1, down from 114 days a month earlier.

Buick sales rose 19 percent year-over-year, while sales declined 3 percent for Chevrolet and Cadillac and 1 percent for GMC.

The Chevrolet Sonic, Cruze and Malibu each posted a double-digit increase. The Cruze was the month's second best-selling compact car, about 3,500 units behind the Toyota Corolla but ahead of the No. 3 Honda Civic, No. 4 Hyundai Elantra and No. 5 Ford Focus.

Sales were up for every Buick nameplate, including a 93 percent gain for the Encore, but down for every Cadillac nameplate except the SRX and the electric ELR, which is new.

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


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