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GM sales rise 9% on robust commercial-fleet sales, SUV demand

DETROIT -- A jump in sales to commercial customers and stout demand for the redesigned GMC Yukon, Chevrolet Tahoe and other trucks propelled General Motors' July sales up 9 percent from a year earlier.

GM dealers delivered 256,160 vehicles in July, as the safety problems that have plagued the automaker since February continue to show little effect in the showroom.

GMC posted the strongest month of GM's four brands, as sales surged 22 percent. Chevy and Buick each rose 8 percent, while Cadillac slipped 3 percent, the only domestic brand to post a sales decline.

GM's fleet sales rose 31 percent, to 59,054 vehicles. The sharpest increase came from commercial, or business, customers: up 69 percent, for the ninth straight monthly increase.

Deliveries to rental agencies -- the largest fleet category -- rose 22 percent. Sales to government buyers rose 8 percent.

All three fleet categories were helped by a 65 percent spike in sales of GM's full-sized commercial vans, the Chevrolet Express and GMC Savana.

GM's retail sales rose 4 percent amid strong demand for its 2015 SUVs, which rolled out during the first quarter. Combined sales of Chevy and GMC SUVs -- the Suburban, Tahoe, Yukon and Yukon XL -- rose 25 percent from a year earlier. Escalade sales nearly doubled.

“Sales of utility vehicles soared in July because American families feel better about the economy,” Kurt McNeil, U.S. vice president of sales operations, said in a statement.

Car sales slid 4 percent, though, hurt by an 18 percent drop in sales of the Chevy Cruze compact, to 20,926.

Crossover sales rose 26 percent, as sales of the Chevy Equinox and its sibling GMC Terrain each surged 37 percent.

Cadillac continues to lag its luxury competitors, now down 2 percent for the year. The jump in Escalade sales failed to offset declines for every other nameplate in the lineup, including the volume-leading SRX crossover (down 7 percent), ATS compact sedan (off 11 percent) and the XTS large sedan (down 34 percent)

Cadillac's head of U.S. sales, Bill Peffer, left the company in June. Last month, GM hired former Infiniti chief Johan de Nysschen to run Cadillac globally.

Through the first seven months of the year, GM sold 1.7 million vehicles, up 4 percent from a year earlier. During that period, it issued 60 safety recalls, calling back nearly 29 million vehicles globally.

You can reach Mike Colias at

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