Need further proof that America is becoming a nation of truck drivers?
General Motors' sales bonanza last month consisted of 69.1 percent trucks and only 30.9 percent cars. Truck sales were up a rousing 75.7 percent over last year; car sales rose a measly 7.3 percent. Those sales figures don't include Saab.
Looking at individual brands, Chevrolet truck sales jumped 72.7 percent, but its cars barely kept pace with last year, up only 2.0 percent. GMC truck sales zoomed 93.2 percent. GMC doesn't mess with cars.
Did desire trump gasoline price? -- Sales of GM's large SUVs were mighty strong last month, raising two questions that we'll get to in a moment.
First of all, look at these year-to-year sales gains: GMC Envoy, 99.3 percent; GMC Yukon, 104.2 percent; Chevrolet Tahoe, 81.5 percent; Chevrolet TrailBlazer, 57.9 percent; Chevrolet Suburban, 48.3 percent; and Cadillac Escalade, 35.0 percent. Some of those vehicles are nearing the end of their life spans and will be replaced early next year.
Now for the questions, which may give marketing people a few sleepless nights: Did buyers say, "To heck with gasoline prices. I want one, and I'm going to buy one"?
Or was their rationale, "At prices like these, I can buy a lot of high-priced gasoline"?
Silverado swamps F series -- It doesn't happen often, but Chevy's Silverado pickup outsold the Ford F series last month. It was only the fourth month in the last 10 years that Chevrolet has led the pickup pack, and Chevy's margin was 7,587 or fewer in the other three months.
This time, Chevrolet blew Ford out of the water with a score of 109,359 to 72,485.
And then there was Pontiac -- Getting tired of GM gee-whizzers? Pontiac brings the division numbers down to earth.
Somehow, Pontiac managed to sell 14.1 percent fewer new cars and trucks last month than it did in June 2004.
Pontiac accomplished that while GM's other North American brands were having a field day. Hummer sales more than tripled, thanks to the new smaller H3, and there were year-to-year gains of 93.2 percent for GMC, 70.3 percent for Cadillac (which nearly doubled its car sales), 48.5 percent for Chevrolet, 38.7 percent for Saturn and 36.4 percent for Buick.
BMW stomps VW -- A year ago, BMW division and Volkswagen division were in a dogfight for sales leadership among European brands in the United States. At the halfway point, VW led BMW by 540 sales.
What a difference a year makes! Now, there's a new leader, and there's no contest for first place. BMW rules the roost with 122,864 first-half sales and is 26,160 ahead of second-place VW, which has 96,704.
VW's first-half dip of 23.5 percent was one of the steepest in the industry this year. It was exceeded only by Isuzu, down 47.9 percent; Mitsubishi, off 35.4 percent; and Jaguar, down 28.5 percent.
Hail to the hardy -- Enough of the negative stuff. Let's salute the brands that got the job done in the first half.
Toyota's little Scion sold nearly 2½ times as many new vehicles in the first half of 2005 as in the same period last year, and Hummer (at the other end of the size chart) posted a gain of 35.4 percent as the H3 came on line.
BMW AG added a convertible to its Mini lineup, and it helped sales rise 23.4 percent.
The Chrysler brand rates a special tip of the hat. Sales were up 20.2 percent in the first half, following a gain of 27.0 percent for all of 2004. Also scoring well in the first half were Nissan Division, up 16.0 percent, and Cadillac, up 14.7 percent.
Then and now -- It's interesting to compare the first-month sales of GM's GM Employee Discount for Everyone with the first full month sales in the Keep America Rolling campaign that followed the 9/11 terrorist attack and featured 0 percent loans.
Keep America Rolling began in mid-September 2001, shortly after the attack, so October was the first full sales month. By then, Ford and Chrysler and several major imports had adopted the program.
Sales totals for the months are amazingly similar. GM dealerships delivered 544,215 North American cars and light trucks last month, just 1,878 more than in October 2001. June's total was 46.7 percent higher than a year earlier. In October 2001, the increase was 36.0 percent.
Last month, GM's market share rocketed to 32.4 percent, up an astonishing 6.8 percentage points from GM's subdued share last year. In October 2001, GM's North American makes had 31.6 percent share, up 1.6 points from the year before.
You may e-mail John K. Teahen Jr. at