ANN ARBOR, Mich. -- The new General Motors, less than a week out of bankruptcy, is grappling with weak U.S. sales so far in July, CEO Fritz Henderson said today.
After Junes seasonally adjusted annual sales rate slipped to 9.5 million vehicles, Hendersons comment signals the market will remain stuck at 27-year lows. But Henderson said he is cautiously optimistic about the second half.
The weak U.S. economy bludgeoned GM during the first half of the year, as its sales falling 40.4 percent to 947,518 vehicles. Industrywide sales plunged 35.1 percent to 4.81 million vehicles.
Henderson, appearing on the sidelines of an automotive media event here, also addressed criticism directed toward Buicks latest ad campaign by Vice Chairman Bob Lutz, who put off retirement last week to take over GMs marketing efforts.
That Buick commercial tested very well, which is not the same as saying that its an effective ad, Lutz said on Friday.
Henderson said the spots for the Enclave crossover and LaCrosse sedan are fine, but not good enough to convey Buick as a luxury premium brand, so GM will have to do better with advertising.
He emphasized that GM must create the best products across all four of its surviving brands, including Buick, Chevrolet, GMC and Cadillac.
We need to ride launches of vehicles that continue to build the strength of each brand, he said, noting the LaCrosse.
The LaCrosse is not a competitive vehicle, its a superb vehicle.
Jim Federico, GMs global vehicle line executive, said he hopes the LaCrosse will attract a new demographic of 40- to 50-year-olds rather than the current average age of Buick buyer, which is 68 to 69 years old.