Looking at November new sales, all of General Motors’ (GM) brands saw significant increases, with GMC reporting the biggest of the month as sales grew by 20%. The largest contributor towards GMC’s success was the performance of two models in particular: Acadia and Sierra deliveries increased by 108% and 23%, respectively, which accounted for the lion’s share of total brand sales. For Buick, sales increased by 13%, mainly because of the all-new Encore, introduced in Jan. 2013, which accounted for 2,663 additional sales for the brand.
GM’s volume leader Chevrolet managed to grow sales by 13% with some familiar nameplates making great progress over where sales sat last year. A prime example of this is the Malibu; while it was all-new for 2013, the initial reception was not warmly accepted by consumers and sales ultimately suffered for a majority of this past year. The old pre-bankruptcy Chevrolet might not have acted so quickly and left the Malibu as it was for a bit longer, but new era GM leadership recognized the problem and quickly worked up a significant list of refinements for the 2014, which were implemented immediately.
As a result, Chevrolet sold 4,178 more Malibu sedans this November, which equated to a monthly tally of 14,405 total sales for an impressive 41% increase. Another hot seller in the Chevrolet lineup was the Silverado; sales of the redesigned 2014 model helped juice the year-over-year November total by 12%. It’s also important to point out that the Silverado is the brand’s volume-leading model with 34,386 total sales last month. To put this in perspective, Buick and Cadillac sales combined totaled 31,244 units which shows just how important the success of the redesigned model is and how important it will continue to be for years to come.
On the luxury side, premium brand Cadillac reported a nice 11% year-over-year increase. Cadillac’s November success can be attributed almost entirely to strong sales of the all-new ATS and XTS sedans, which increased by 60% and 42%, respectively. However, most of Cadillac’s older models didn’t do so well; SRX sales fell by 10% and the CTS saw a 6% pullback compared to last year, which reinforces just how important fresh products are (especially in the luxury sector).
For GM, the double-digit gains recorded in November definitely came at a price, and that price was the use of incentives to spark deals. According to Autodata incentive data, mainstream and luxury segment brand spending for the entire market grew by 8% on an annual basis in November. But Cadillac’s average incentive spending increased from $3,836 to $5,217, which equated to a 36% increase and was $1,563 more than the luxury segment average of $3,654.
The rest of GM’s brands didn’t goose spending quite as much as Cadillac, although each spent way more than the mainstream average of $2,510. Of the group, the biggest spender in November was Buick as average incentive spending grew by 30% compared to last year for an average of $5,070 per unit sold. Chevrolet remained the thriftiest GM brand, but the group still increased spending by 26% to reach an average of $3,175. GMC spending increased by 16%, the least of any GM brand, but their average of $3,716 per unit sold was still over $1,000 higher than the mainstream average.
General Motors has a lot to be thankful for this holiday season: sales for each GM brand continue to improve with each passing month, and on Monday, Dec. 9 the Treasury Department announced that it had sold its final shares of GM stock thereby ending the U.S. government’s ownership stake in the company. And on Tuesday, Dec. 10, GM announced that Mary Barra would replace Dan Akerson as CEO.
With the company finally past its bankruptcy obligations, a new chapter is set to start for GM. And while there is still much that needs to be done to create a sustainably successful company, as Akerson stated, “This is a great company again.” Barra will start out her tenure as CEO on solid footing running a profitable company that at least outwardly has learned from past mistakes. This entails keeping their product portfolio as fresh as possible and matching production to demand, both of which will allow the company to become thriftier with incentive spending.
Perhaps the most important thing they can do is to always remember the past so they don’t fall back into the habits of the old GM.