DETROIT -- General Motors’ U.S. sales slipped less than 1 percent in August, as the second straight monthly drop in fleet sales offset rising demand from individual buyers.
GM sold 270,480 vehicles last month, down 0.7 percent from a year earlier. GM said retail sales rose 6 percent. Fleet deliveries dropped 24 percent, amid a 38 percent decrease in rental-car sales.
GM said it gained 1.5 percentage points of retail market share in August, to 16.5 percent, citing estimates from J.D. Power. The company said its retail share has grown for five straight months.
The drop in rental sales, which fell by about 15,000 vehicles vs. last year, reflects GM’s plan to curb its rental business as part of a broader strategy to boost retail sales and resale values. Rental sales dropped sharply in July, and GM said today that it expects them to decline again in September.
Through August, rental deliveries fell 14 percent. Meanwhile, more-profitable fleet lines grew: Sales to commercial customers rose 16 percent, and government sales grew 5 percent.
“GM’s retail sales increase far outpaced the industry in August,” Kurt McNeil, GM’s U.S. vice president of sales operations, said in a statement. “We will continue this momentum with the redesigned Chevrolet Cruze and Malibu” sedans. Chevy plans a fall launch of the 2016 Malibu and a first-quarter rollout of the next-generation Cruze.
Chevy, which accounted for 68 percent of GM’s total August sales, saw deliveries slip 1.5 percent amid declining car sales. Sales of its biggest money maker, the Silverado pickup, rose 12 percent.
GMC had the strongest performance of GM’s four brands and its best August in almost a decade, posting a 3.5 percent gain, to 49,363 vehicles. Sales of the Sierra pickup (up 7 percent) and Acadia large crossover (up 10 percent) led GMC, along with more than 2,400 units of incremental sales of the Canyon midsize pickup, which went on sale in September 2014.
Buick sales rose 0.6 percent in August. Crossover sales surged, with a 27 percent jump for the large Enclave and a 29 percent increase for the small Encore. Deliveries of the Verano small sedan fell 48 percent, and Regal midsize sedan sales dropped 23 percent.
Cadillac sales fell 5.5 percent amid steep drops in demand for its CTS midsize sedan (down 33 percent) and XTS large sedan (off 49 percent). Cadillac’s sales were down 2.8 percent through the first eight months of the year, trailing brand chief Johan de Nysschen’s prediction of flat sales for 2015.
Overall, GM said, August average transaction prices rose about 2 percent from a year ago, to about $34,000, partly from lower incentives on the Silverado and Sierra. The company said its incentive spending per vehicle through August rose to 11.2 percent of ATP, up 0.4 percentage points and “in line with the industry change.”