DETROIT -- General Motors' sales rose 10 percentin August, to 240,520 units, on the strength of its Chevrolet car lineup. Sales of the Cruze, Sonic and Volt all hit record highs for any month, GM said today.
GM said retail sales rose 11 percent from a year earlier, making August the company's best month this year for retail sales.
Chevrolet sales rose 11 percent to 169,978 units. GM credited the increase in part to its advertising blitz during more than two weeks of Olympics coverage. Much of the advertising centered on the "Chevy Confidence" promotion, which featured no-haggle pricing and allowed customers to return their car within 30 to 60 days of purchase or take a $500 rebate to waive the return option.
Sales of the Cruze compact, which was launched in the fall of 2010, hit a record 25,975, up 19 percent. The result followed a weak July, when Cruze sales tumbled 39 percent, to 14,954, because of a drop in sales to fleet customers.
Fleet sales accounted for about 30 percent of Cruze sales in August, Chevrolet sales chief Don Johnson said. Fleet sales accounted for less than 20 percent of Cruze 2012 sales through July.
Sales of the Volt plug-in hybrid totaled 2,831 units, surpassing the previous record of 2,289 set in March. A $249-a-month lease deal and increased availability of a low-emissions version of the car that qualifies for California's carpool lanes propelled sales.
Sales of the Chevy Silverado rose 4 percent, and the GMC Sierra was up 9 percent. That uptick for full-sized pickups, along with the expected growth in pickup sales during the traditionally strong fall and holiday sales season, marks an "inflection point" for pickup sales, said Kurt McNeil, GM's vice president of sales operations.
"We're very encouraged by the continued signs of a housing recovery and the overall resilience of the U.S. economy," McNeil told analysts and reporters during a conference call.
GM said its inventory of full-sized pickups fell to 122 days at the end of August, from 136 days at the end of July. Those levels are unusually high because GM has been building extra pickups to offset downtime at its truck plants as the company retools for its next generation of trucks and SUVs, due next year.
GM expects pickup inventories to fall to an 80- to 85-day supply by year end, McNeil said.
Strong month for Buick
Buick's 12 percent sales increase, to 18,000, was the sharpest improvement among GM's four brands. GM said Buick had its strongest retail sales month since September 2007.
Sales of the Verano compact, which was launched in December, rose for the ninth straight month, to 5,200. But sales of the mid-sized Regal sedan slid 46 percent, to 2,072.
Buick sales chief Brian Sweeney said 60 percent of Regal sales were from turbocharged models, including the GS performance model. GM has positioned the Regal as the brand's performance nameplate.
Cadillac posted its third straight month of year-over-year sales gains, rising 11 percent to 14,704, after losing ground in nine of the 11 months before that. GM's luxury brand sold 2,158 XTS large sedans in August, the third month since the car's launch.
GMC sales rose 4 percent to 37,838. A 26 percent surge in Acadia crossover sales was offset by a 40 percent drop in sales of the Yukon and Yukon XL SUVs.
GM's overall incentive spending edged down 2 percent in August from a year earlier, to an average of $2,990 per vehicle, according to TrueCar.com.
Alan Batey, GM's vice president of U.S. sales and service, said during the conference call that GM's average transaction prices -- up about $90 from a year earlier -- and steady incentive spending "are clear evidence of the success of our new products."
"We're growing sales at retail with a very, very controlled approach," Batey said. "That's going to continue going forward."