General Motors Co. (NYSE:GM), North America’s largest automaker, announced Wednesday it sold 237,646 cars and light trucks in April, an 11 percent increase from last year on robust demand for the Chevrolet Cruze sedan, Equinox crossover and Tahoe SUV.
GM’s seasonally adjusted annual rate of sales (SAAR) estimate for the calendar year stands at 15.2 million units, up from last year’s 14.5 million and within the 15 million to 15.5 million units that most analysts expect. If achieved with sustained momentum, then 2014 could see the U.S. auto market back to 2007 levels, prior to the recession that sent auto sales plummeting and drove two of three U.S. automakers to seek help from the U.S. taxpayer.
“The Detroit Three had a particularly strong month -- all had double-digit sales increases that look as if they will outpace the industry's growth,” said Michelle Krebs of Edmunds.com. “Strength is coming from full-size pickup trucks, which may well have gained a full percentage point of market share from a year ago."
As with competitors Ford Motor Company (NYSE:F) and Chrysler Group LLC, GM saw sales of its popular pickup truck, the Silverado, boost revenue as the rebounding housing market lifted demand for America’s perennial favorite vehicle type.
Combined, the three auto makers sold 606,928 vehicles last month, representing the bulk of total sales but not including major foreign auto companies, like Honda and VW, which announce their sales figures throughout the day.
GM’s Chevrolet sold 39,395 Silverado pickups last month, a 28 percent spike from April of last year. The company will be delivering the 2014 model to dealers this summer, so if demand for trucks continues, the company will want to unload its older models and get sales rolling for the newer one.
“GM will be looking to reduce Chevrolet pickup supply if inventory is still high when sales are reported,” said Paul Taylor, chief economist for the National Automobile Dealers Association.
The 2013 Cadillac XTS luxury sedan helped push sales up 34.3 percent in GM’s luxury segment. The Cadillac SRX crossover and the CTS sedan, the most popular brands in the segment, saw sales decline last month while the three Escalade SUV models saw gains in sales.
“Car-buying conditions are strong and will continue to release pent-up demand,” said Kurt McNeil, GM’s vice president of U.S. sales, in the sales announcement. GM’s SAAR, for the entire U.S. auto market in April was 15 million vehicles, 200,000 fewer than March. April tends to see sales decline from March, which is typically the best month for auto sales in the first quarter.
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