Chevy sold 22,764 Equinoxes in December, up 79 percent from a year earlier and the highest monthly tally since the vehicle's debut in 2005. Terrain sales were 9,303 for the month, up 68 percent and also a record.
“The availability has definitely improved, no question,” said Jim Purves, a sales manager at Al Serra Chevrolet in Grand Blanc, Mich., whose store sold more than 300 Chevys last month. “That helped us to have a monster December.”
Purves said he could have sold even more crossovers. Johnson said GM is working on that.
“We're probably still a little light on Equinox, Terrain” and some pickups, Johnson said. “Those would be the tight spots we have to look at.”
Overall, GM sold 224,185 vehicles in December, 8 percent better than a year earlier, when it was clearing out vehicles from the Saab, Hummer, Pontiac and Saturn brands that have been shuttered or sold.
Counting only the four surviving brands -- Chevrolet, Buick, GMC and Cadillac -- December sales grew 16 percent in December, to 223,932 units.
For 2010, those four brands sold 2.2 million vehicles -- 6 percent more than all eight brands combined in 2009.
Chevy Cruze sales were another highlight last month. Chevy sold 10,865 of the compact cars in December, up 35 percent from 8,066 in November.
The Cruze's early success, as well as the upcoming launch of the Sonic subcompact in the second half of 2011, bodes well for GM as gas prices move higher, said Jessica Caldwell, senior analyst for Edmunds.com
“GM is known for its big SUVs and trucks,” Caldwell said. “But it's better positioned than in the past with respect to fuel economy.”
GM managed to resist adding incentives during the holiday selling season.
Its average transaction price rose 2 percent in December from a year earlier to $34,783, according to TrueCar.com. The overall industry fell by nearly 1 percent to $29,358.
GM's incentive spending dropped 17 percent to $3,347 per vehicle. That was the largest decrease among the seven largest automakers, but still left it at No. 2 behind Chrysler Group's $3,488 in incentive spending.
“We've managed our business prudently,” Johnson said, “keeping inventory in line and lowering our incentive costs while remaining competitive.”