GM expects ‘modest’ U.S. market share gains in 2013, Akerson says

GM expects ‘modest’ U.S. market share gains in 2013, Akerson says
Mike Colias
Automotive News | January 9, 2013 – 10:59 am EST
UPDATED: 1/9/13 12:46 p.m. ET – adds more details
DETROIT — General Motors CEO Dan Akerson expects GM to make “modest” market share gains in the United States this year, driven by the momentum of a busy launch schedule.
“We expect a modest share increase in ’13 given the new products and their acceptance in the marketplace,” Akerson told reporters today at GM headquarters.
Last year, GM’s U.S. market share fell to 17.9 percent, from 19.6 percent in 2011, its lowest level since the 1920s. GM gained a half point in market share in 2011 over 2010 for its first gain in a decade.
GM’s 4 percent sales growth in 2012 trailed the market’s 13 percent growth, as Japanese competitors stormed back after the disruption from the March 2011 earthquake in Japan.
Akerson called GM’s market share gains in 2011 “an anomaly” and said he knew that GM’s U.S. market share would decline last year because of a rebound by Japanese rivals. He said that GM has been hamstrung by having the oldest products in the United States, a hangover from its 2009 bankruptcy.
Akerson described GM as “a competent, capable” and “very dynamic competitor” in the United States. He cited the planned second-quarter launch of GM’s redesigned full-sized pickups, strong early sales of the Cadillac XTS large sedan and ATS compact and the launch next month of the Buick Encore small crossover as growth drivers.
“I think there will be a lot of people worried about us, as much as I’m worried about specific competitors that we meet in the marketplace,” he said.
He added a note of caution to GM’s U.S. industry forecast of 15 million-15.5 million light vehicle sales for 2013 that GM set last week.
He said: “I think you’d be foolish not to footnote that there’s a lot of uncertainty.”

Akerson commented on several other topics during an hour-long meeting with the media ahead of the auto show here next week:
• GM expects to reclaim this year its investment-grade rating, which it lost eight years ago, Akerson said.
• He expects global automotive sales to grow just 2 percent this year, to about 82 million units.
• Akerson would like to see GM’s European losses trimmed by one-third to one-half this year, which he said would be “a good first step” toward GM’s previously announced goal of breaking even on the troubled continent by mid-decade. Through the first three quarters of 2012, GM’s pre-tax losses in Europe were $1.1 billion.
• The Cadillac ELR plug-in hybrid, which will be unveiled at the show on Tuesday, won’t be a big volume entry, Akerson said, but will be a “statement car that I think will bring people into the showroom.”
• Akerson called the next-generation Corvette that GM will unveil on Sunday evening “one of the most beautiful cars” that the company has ever made. “It’s a real statement about the new GM, today’s GM.”

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