DETROIT -- General Motors, in a move that could ripple throughout the auto industry, is switching its reporting of U.S. auto sales from monthly to quarterly in an effort to give a more accurate view of its business operations.
GM is the first major automaker to change how it reports monthly light-vehicle U.S. sales results since the industry dropped 10-day reports in the early 1990s. It is a step certain to be considered by other automakers -- if it hasn't been already.
"Thirty days is not enough time to separate real sales trends from short-term fluctuations in a very dynamic, highly competitive market," Kurt McNeil, U.S. vice president of sales operations, said in a statement. "Reporting sales quarterly better aligns with our business, and the quality of information will make it easier to see how the business is performing."
GM cited monthly sales being subject to many issues that make them more volatile than quarterly sales, including product launch activity, weather, other seasonal factors, the number of selling days and incentive activity.
The change, which does not impact dealers reporting monthly sales to the automaker, was announced Tuesday ahead of GM's release of U.S. light-duty vehicle deliveries for March -- its last monthly report.
GM will also no longer report monthly sales in China, its largest market, or Brazil. The company will provide monthly sales data to the U.S. Federal Reserve, other government agencies and industry associations across the globe but that data will not be made public.
Other major automakers indicated on Tuesday that they would not immediately follow GM's lead on switching to reporting sales on a quarterly basis.
"At this time, we are maintaining our reporting of sales on a monthly basis," said a spokesman for Fiat Chrysler Automobiles.
Mark LaNeve, head of U.S. marketing, sales and service for Ford Motor Co., said GM’s move is “pretty significant for the industry.” He said Ford will assess GM’s quarterly reporting before deciding if the company will follow.
“I understand why they are doing it. There are pros and cons,” LaNeve told reporters and analysts Tuesday on Ford’s monthly sales call. “We’ll spend some time assessing and do what is best for Ford Motor Co.,” he added. LaNeve would not say when a decision would be made.
GM's move follows by five years a decision to stop reporting North American production data. Fiat Chrysler has followed suit on that front.
Studying retail landscape
GM, since emerging from its 2009 bankruptcy, has been attempting to woo Wall Street investors by expanding its operations as a service-based provider rather than a traditional auto manufacturer that solely relies on sales of new cars and trucks to drive its business.
The company, according to officials, conducted due diligence prior to making the decision. That included analyzing nearly three years of stock trading data on sales days and researching how other industries and companies report sales.
GM benchmarked companies such as Amazon Inc., Apple Inc., AutoNation, John Deere, Penske Corp., Walmart Inc. and Whirlpool Corp. -- all of which do not report sales on a monthly basis. California electric vehicle manufacturer Tesla Inc. also reports quarterly sales instead of monthly results.