Pickup truck and SUV sales shouldered the load again for General Motors in March, while car sales stalled.
The carmaker posted a 2.4 percent sales dip in March vs. the year-ago March.
Sales in March of pickups, vans and SUVs jumped 14 percent year over year. Chevrolet’s key pickup offerings, the full-size Silverado and midsize Colorado, had a strong month. Silverado sales were up 7 percent to 45,193 vehicles.
Chevrolet sold 6,621 units of the new Colorado in March, representing incremental new sales from a year ago. Chevrolet stopped producing the Colorado in the United States in 2012 before relaunching an all-new pickup for the 2015 model year.
Kurt McNeil, GM’s vice president of U.S. sales operations, said in a statement the carmaker expected strong truck sales in 2015 as the economy improved throughout 2014.
GM posted record transaction prices in March on the strength of higher-profit pickup, crossover and SUV sales.
According to Power Information Network estimates through March 22, average transaction prices were $35,200, up more than $1,200 per vehicle compared with a year ago and up $725 compared with February 2015.
“Our foresight and disciplined approach to incentives is being rewarded with very strong truck sales and record average transaction prices,” McNeil said.
Meantime, according to PIN estimates, GM’s incentive spending as a percentage of average transaction price was 9.2 percent in March. That’s a dip of 1.6 percentage points from February. It also was better than the industry average of 10 percent in March.
“Higher demand dovetailed perfectly with the launches of our new full-size pickups and large SUVs,” McNeil said.
Car sales, though, fell 21 percent in March across GM’s four brands.
The Chevrolet Cruze compact lost 11 percent; the midsize Malibu was down 12 percent, and the larger Impala sedan fell 31 percent. The Cadillac ATS sedan swooned 32 percent, and the Buick Regal was down 22 percent.
On a brighter note, sales of the Buick LaCrosse sedan helped push Buick to a 0.5 percent gain for the month. Its sales were up 25 percent, while sales of the Encore small crossover gained 7 percent.
GMC eked out a 1.3 percent gain for the month. It was led by sales of the Canyon midsize pickup, the sister vehicle of the Chevrolet Colorado, and sales of the full-size Sierra pickup.
Cadillac suffered the biggest loss of 6.8 percent in March, while Chevrolet sales fell 3.2 percent.
Big gainers for Chevrolet were the Equinox crossover, up 22 percent, and the Traverse large crossover, which gained 18 percent.
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