DETROIT -- General Motors customers shrugged off higher fuel prices and snapped up pickups, SUVs and large crossovers in February, propelling GM to a 7 percent sales gain.
GM sold 224,314 units last month, the company said today. Its gain outpaced the industry's modest 4 percent growth. It's the second straight month that GM has gained market share after slipping last year to 17.9 percent, from 19.6 percent in 2011.
Each GM brand increased sales in February. Cadillac led the way, up 20 percent. GM said Cadillac's retail sales during the first two months mark the luxury brand's strongest start since 2006.
In February, Buick rose 15 percent, GMC was up 10 percent and Chevrolet posted a 5 percent gain.
For much of the past two years, GM's improved car lineup has helped fuel its sales growth. In February, trucks and crossovers carried the load, with truck sales up 14 percent and crossovers up 17 percent. Car sales slipped 4 percent.
Sales of Chevrolet's highest-volume cars slid in February. Cruze sales slipped 12 percent, Malibu sales fell 26 percent and Sonic sales dropped 24 percent.
But Impala sales edged up 1 percent. Chevy also sold 2,836 Spark minicars in February, the car's best month since its launch last summer.
Sales of the Chevrolet Silverado and GMC Sierra full-sized pickups combined -- GM's highest-volume vehicles -- rose 28 percent. The sharper sales helped reduce GM's full-sized pickup inventory to a 97-day supply as of Thursday, down from 117 days on Jan. 31.
Incentives on the pickups rose by about $500 per truck vs. a year earlier, said Kurt McNeil, GM's vice president of sales operations. Average transaction prices on the pickups rose by roughly the same amount, he said.
Big SUVs rise sharply
Sales of big SUVs rose sharply after posting weaker sales in 2012. Chevrolet Suburban increased 13 percent and Chevrolet Tahoe jumped 26 percent, while GMC Yukon and Yukon XL sales combined were up 23 percent.
Sales rose 26 percent for the Buick Enclave and 9 percent for the Chevrolet Traverse. The two vehicles share GM's big crossover platform and were reskinned for the 2013 model year. Sales of the GMC Acadia, another refreshed platform sibling, were flat.
Overall, GM's incentives rose 1 percent vs. the year-earlier period, to $3,143 per vehicle, according to TrueCar.com.
"We want to grow both our absolute market share and the quality of our market share at the same time," McNeil said. "The foundation is strong [average transaction prices] and residual values with competitive, but not excessive, incentives."
GM's retail and fleet sales each rose 7 percent from a year earlier. Fleet accounted for 25 percent of overall sales, equal to a year earlier and in line with GM's long-range target.