DETROIT -- The pending launch of General Motors' first full-sized pickup redesign in seven years is expected to boost profits well into 2015. But getting the trucks to market is pinching the bottom line in the meantime.
GM's first-quarter net profit dropped 14 percent, to $865 million, as production downtime from retooling its pickup plants -- and heavier incentives to move the outgoing models -- crimped North American profits.
In contrast, GM managed to narrow its European losses; CEO Dan Akerson credited cost cuts and new models in Europe for the improvement, which came as sales there continued to soften.
Global earnings before interest and taxes and excluding one-time items, the figure that GM considers the best measure of its results, fell 19 percent to $1.76 billion, as revenue fell 2 percent to $36.88 billion.
North America remained GM's profit center, but pretax profit there fell 14 percent, to $1.41 billion.
CFO Dan Ammann attributed the lower pricing and wholesale deliveries to dealerships in part to the changeover to the next-generation full-sized trucks.
The company has idled its pickup plants to retool for the redesigned 2014 models, set for launch within weeks, while also offering big discounts on outgoing models. Full-sized SUVs will follow.
GM's average incentives, measured as a percentage of the average transaction price, rose to 11.5 percent in the first quarter from 10.4 percent a year earlier. GM's incentives on average were 16 percent higher than the industry's in the first quarter, the company said.
Ammann said that the company's focus is on the more than 40 vehicle rollouts that it plans globally this year, including the rollout of the Chevrolet Silverado and GMC Sierra pickups, among the company's most profitable products.
Ammann called the first-quarter results "a good start to the year." But he added: "We have a huge amount of work to do ahead of us for the balance of the year, with all of our launches as we look to build on the momentum of those and look to bring the results of those to the top and to the bottom line."