Janesville31.3°

GM’s full-size sport utility sales still struggle

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JAMES P. LEUTE
October 2, 2008
— While U.S. auto sales were down in September, General Motors’ officials are thumping their chests that their sales weren’t as bad as their competitors.

GM said Wednesday that its new product lineup combined with strong sales and marketing programs to produce monthly sales that were 16 percent below those of last September. GM’s major competitors, however, posted declines greater than 20 percent.


Sales of GM’s full-size sport utility vehicles built in Janesville struggled in September.


Suburban sales were down 42.5 percent, while Tahoe sales were down 52.2 percent. Yukon XL deliveries for the month were down 54.4 percent, and Yukon sales dropped 49.3 percent.


On a calendar-year-to-date basis, Suburban sales are down 33.4 percent, while Tahoe deliveries are off 29.5 percent. Yukon XL sales have dropped by 42.5 percent, and Yukon sales are down 33.9 percent.


Mark LaNeve, a GM vice president, said GM’s mid-utility crossovers—Chevrolet Traverse, Buick Enclave, GMC Acadia and Saturn Outlook—accounted for more than 14,000 vehicle sales in the month. The first new Chevrolet Traverse crossovers were sold in September, marking the start of deliveries for the fourth vehicle in GM’s mid-utility crossover lineup.


GM officials have said it’s that consumer demand for crossovers and smaller cars that has drained the large SUV market. Third quarter sales of full-size pickups, however, jumped 30 percent.


In response to changing consumer preferences, GM announced in June that it will cease production at its Janesville plant by the end of 2010 at the latest. Local GM workers are not building SUVs this week, the fourth of five weeks of non-production scheduled between August and early November.


GM has said it still plans an additional five weeks of non-production in Janesville, which would effectively shutter the plant for November and December. But that could change, and it’s possible workers will be called in for a couple of weeks in November and December.


Overall, GM’s total third quarter 2008 sales of 828,000 vehicles were 4 percent higher than second quarter sales of 799,000 vehicles and 3 percent higher than first quarter sales of 806,000.


“September marked the second consecutive month where GM performed extremely well in tough market conditions,” LaNeve said. “We again gained retail share and our total market share looks to be above 27 percent for the month without an increase in incentives.


“In a market where customers are cautious and seeking value, more and more are choosing a fuel efficient, award-winning GM product.”


Ford said Wednesday its U.S. sales fell 34 percent in August, while Toyota’s sales dropped 32 percent. Nissan reported a 37 percent decline, while Chrysler and Honda checked in with drops of 33 percent and 24 percent, respectively.


—Material from Janesville Gazette wire services was used in this story.



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