executives say dealer lots are populated mostly with crew-cab, V-8 versions of its redesigned large pickups, and the imbalance could be putting a leash on early sales of the ’14 Chevrolet Silverado and GMC Sierra.
“We are still over-weighted toward crew-cab and V-8 trucks,” says Kurt McNeil, GM’s chief sales analyst. “Our light-duty (pickup) mix will moderate over time as our launch progresses.”
However, the Silverado and Sierra posted strong sales in October, combining for 59,163 deliveries and falling short of the industry-leadingF-Series light-duty pickups by just 1,048 units, according to WardsAuto data.
GM’s overall sales last month rose 11.4% to 226,402 units, adjusted for an extra selling day compared with last year.
GM launched the important new pickups last month purposely weighted toward crew-cab models with 5.3L V-8 engines, because it sees that body style and displacement as the most popular and profitable.
The pricing story has begun playing out, as the automaker posted a 5-point market-share gain in the above-$40,000 light-duty pickup segment. The uptick comes before the most expensive trim levels of the trucks are to go on sale, McNeil notes.
The automaker also remains disciplined on pricing of the new pickups, he adds, refusing to match the discounting of competitors. GM continues to sell-down ’13 models of the Silverado and Sierra, too, which with big incentives are thousands of dollars cheaper than the new ones.
GM expects sales of the Silverado and Sierra, easily its most important new vehicles in nearly a decade, to take on a more brisk sales pace once more double- and regular-cab models become available. A greater number of pickups outfitted with the smaller V-6 and range-topping V-8 engines would help, too.
“We still have a little bit lower than our target” of double- and regular-cab pickups, says Don Johnson, head of sales at Chevrolet. “We think by early in the new year, we’ll be in line with what our targets are. Early Q1, we should be there.”
McNeil says some of GM’s dealers and its own sales field agents must get up to speed on the advantages of the new double-cab body style and the capability of the redesigned 4.3L V-6 engine.
“That’s going to take some time,” he says. “It’s all about continuation of the launch.”
GM’s October deliveries surpassed most estimates, as the automaker saw a flurry of sales in the final 10 days of the month.
McNeil says a string of more than a dozen new-vehicle launches this year are drawing customers to its dealer showrooms. The new vehicles are in high-volume segments, too, combining for 1 million annual sales.
“That’s driving the entire business forward,” he says.
Sales at GM’s volume Chevrolet brand, which has seen most of those new products this year, swelled 10.5% to 155,214 units.
Sales of the Chevy Malibu midsize sedan jumped 57.5% to 15,746 units, grabbing new momentum from a quick redesign that corrected shortcomings of the previous year’s model, McNeil says. The Chevy Equinox 5-passenger CUV turned in its best October ever, up 7.4% to 17,163.
Cadillac sales grew 5.5% to 14,792 units, with the all-new ATS luxury compact sport sedan and XTS large sedan combining for 5,532. Buick sales rose 26.3% to 17,555 on the strength of 2,153 deliveries of the Regal, as a redesigned of the midsize sedan joined the showroom. GMC sales increased 11.4% to 38,841, due largely to Sierra deliveries.