saw its U.S. sales tumble 11.9% in January, as severe weather across the country pinched sales and the automaker’s redesigned large-pickup launch continued to search for traction.
“We have major launches under way and we are going to accelerate brand-building and other growth initiatives, which include executing our winning strategy to sell more pickup trucks with larger cabs, more features and advanced technology,” Kurt McNeil, vice president-sales operations at GM, says in a statement.
Record-low temperatures and heavy snowfall blanketed much of the country in January, and judging by early results from GM and other automakers, it kept buyers on their couches and out of dealerships.
But GM’s results were particularly poor on volume of 171,486 units, compared with 194,699 in the same period a year ago, according to WardsAuto data. There were 25 selling days in January, same as year-ago and December 2013.
The automaker’s large pickup sales, a backbone of GM’s U.S. business and completely redesigned for ’14, bore much of the decline with combined deliveries of the Chevrolet Silverado and GMC Sierra off 20.4% to 40,100 units from 50,402 year-ago. Compared with December, when the new pickups did not produce a year-over-year gain versus the old models, January sales of the Silverado and Sierra fell 33.9%.
January historically produces the industry’s weakest results. It was the softest month for GM large pickup sales since January 2012, when 38.092 were delivered.
Sales of the Silverado and Sierra just recently have gained a full inventory mix of body styles and engine options, and face pricing pressure from key competitors selling older-model pickups. Executives say they will refuse to match incentives while seeking more profitable sales.
GM says in the fourth quarter of last year, half of its light-duty pickup sales were richly contented models costing $40,000 or more, compared with about one-third of sales in the same period year-ago and 20% in 2012. The mix showed further improvement in January, the automaker says.
“One month of sales, that’s not how we’re running the place,” former GM North America president and newly appointed global product chief Mark Reuss told WardsAuto last month.
“We have a long-term view,” he added. “We’re in it for the long haul. We’ve made a great truck and we’ll keep at it. We’re not going to over respond to incentives and temporary market tactics for a month’s victory.”
Reuss expects the pricing pressure to continue throughout the year.
“We’ll keep our powder dry here and go as hard as we can,” he says.
The automaker says in its January sales memo, which marks the first month GM no longer will conduct a conference call to discuss results with journalists and Wall Street analysts, marketing of the trucks and other newly launched products will accelerate in coming weeks.
GM aired two commercials during Sunday’s Super Bowl and plans additional advertising for the Winter Olympics and the NCAA “March Madness” and Final Four basketball tournament.
The automaker also says it expects U.S. sales of 16.0 million to 16.5 million units in 2014, its first forecast for the new year, and “modestly higher” market share for the period.