GM sales rise 6%, led by Cadillac, Buick

GM sales rise 6%, led by Cadillac, Buick
Nick Bunkley
Automotive News | April 2, 2013 – 2:32 pm EST

DETROIT — General Motors’ U.S. sales rose 6 percent in March, the company said today, as new nameplates helped Cadillac achieve a 50 percent gain and Buick rise 37 percent.

Chevrolet sales rose just 1 percent, hindered largely by 22 percent declines for the Malibu and Impala sedans. GM began building a redesigned Impala on Monday, and it is working on a sooner-than-usual refresh for the Malibu, which was updated only a year ago and has struggled amid intense competition in the mid-sized car segment.

GMC sales rose 12 percent.

It was GM’s best March since 2008 and the best March for the company’s four remaining brands since 2007. Company officials estimated that GM’s U.S. market share for the first quarter increased about half a point, to 17.7 percent.

‘Very good start’

“2013 is off to a very good start for General Motors on both a product and market-share basis, and we’re increasingly well positioned to compete as the economy strengthens and our launch cadence accelerates,” Kurt McNeil, GM’s vice president of U.S. sales operations, said during a conference call.

Most GM crossovers and SUVs posted gains, including 55 percent increases for the Buick Enclave and Chevrolet Traverse and a 77 percent increase for the GMC Acadia. Sales were up 8 percent for the Chevrolet Cruze, the brand’s best-selling car, but down 16 percent for the smaller Chevy Sonic.

Sales of the Chevrolet Volt plug-in hybrid dropped 35 percent to 1,478 units last month but were 8 percent higher for the first quarter overall. Don Johnson, Chevrolet’s vice president of sales and service, blamed the decline on lower fleet deliveries, as retail sales rose 4 percent.

Plug-in competition

Johnson also pointed to “aggressive” moves by competitors to decontent and offer cheap leases on other plug-in cars. The Nissan Leaf, whose 2012 sales were less than half of the Volt’s in 2012, posted March sales of 2,236 units, up nearly fourfold from a year earlier.

As GM prepares to introduce redesigned full-sized pickups this spring, sales of the Chevrolet Silverado rose 8 percent. GMC Sierra sales were flat.

Cadillac’s newest nameplates, the ATS and XTS, accounted for 42 percent of the brand’s sales in March. The Buick Encore, in its second full month, accounted for 17 percent of Buick’s March sales.

McNeil noted that Malibu sales rose 25 percent from February and that March was the car’s best month since its launch. He said Malibu sales in March 2012 were aided by discounts on the outgoing model and that the car’s share of its segment has been holding relatively steady.

But with March sales of 18,539, the Malibu is far from challenging the Toyota Camry, Nissan Altima and Ford Fusion, all of which posted sales of more than 30,000 last month.

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