NEW ORLEANS -- After increasing U.S. retail market share in 2015 and 2016 with one of the industry's oldest crossover portfolios, Chevrolet executives say the products they're rolling out this year should drive the brand to a third consecutive gain.
Chevy has two redesigned crossovers, the Equinox and Traverse, on the way in the coming months. General Motors will be working to build supplies of those vehicles as quickly as possible to take advantage of the fact that crossovers and other light trucks now account for more than 60 percent of U.S. industry sales, dealers who attended the brand's make meeting at the NADA convention were told.
"We believe that we can buck the trend by continuing to grow retail share," Alan Batey, GM's president of North America, told Automotive News. "Dealers are extremely excited about the Equinox and the Traverse. They see a lot of upside. They'd like to get their hands on them yesterday."
GM, citing Power Information Network data from J.D. Power and Associates, says Chevrolet's share of U.S. retail sales rose to 11.2 percent in 2016 from 10.7 percent in 2015, with overall retail volume growing by 120,000 vehicles from 2014 to 2016.
Executives also said GMC is positioned to gain retail share with the arrival of the redesigned Terrain, which is a sibling to the Equinox.
"They're expecting a very nice increase this year for GM dealers," said David Ferraez, president of Green Brook Buick-GMC in Green Brook, N.J.
The executives who spoke at the make meeting for Chevy, Buick and GMC were more ambiguous about whether GM might finally halt its overall market share decline this year. GM's share fell to 17.3 percent from 17.6 percent in 2015 as it reduced less-profitable sales to rental-car fleets by about 75,000 vehicles in 2016. It plans to cut rental-car deliveries more this year.
"Overall, we'll see where we come out," Batey said. "But I'm not expecting you're going to see a total share erosion this year."
Among the few complaints aired by dealers was frustration with GM's "tag sale" promotions, in which vehicles that have languished on dealership lots the longest are discounted by up to 20 percent. Many dealers dislike the approach because they say customers don't understand why one or two almost identical-looking vehicles have a significant difference in price and those customers end up going elsewhere if one dealer can't offer a particular color or option package with the discount.
But the program isn't changing, executives told the dealers.
"They said unequivocally they're keeping it in place," said one dealer who said his store's sales have been hurt by the promotion and declined to give his name.