General Motors reported today the worst year-over-year sales change of Detroit's Big Three automakers for September, with total sales of 187,195 vehicles representing a decline of 11.0 percent versus September 2012. The automaker attributes this, in part, to a 27-percent drop-off in fleet sales (such as to rental companies), due to "strategic repositioning of the [Chevrolet] Impala." The Chevrolet brand, however, saw its sales figures drop 14.7 percent year-over-year.
Loser: Chevrolet Cruze, 12,730 sales, down 50.6 percent
The Chevrolet Cruze has long been trumpeted as one of GM's brightest stars, and the compact sedan has routinely been the company's second- or third-best seller. This month, however, its sales tumbled by half -- making the Cruze GM's fifth best-selling product in September. GM offers no explanation for the loss last month; overall this year, Cruze sales are up 8.4 percent versus the first nine months of 2012. The Cruze's cross-town rival, the Ford Focus, also saw its sales fall last month, down 15 percent year-over-year to 16,733 monthly sales.
Loser: Chevrolet Volt, 1766 sales, down 38.1 percent
Although its sales figures have generally been climbing this year, the Chevrolet Volt suffered a big sales stumble last month. That's despite the fact that the 2014 Chevrolet Volt is now $5000 cheaper than before.
Loser: GMC Yukon/Yukon XL, 2987 sales, down 31.3 percent
Sales of the big, glitzy, expensive GMC Yukon and GMC Yukon XL were well off-pace last month, but that could be because savvy shoppers knew that the all-new 2015 models were on the way. This comes even as GM says that overall sales of its large SUVs are up 15 percent. However, GMC sales overall dropped off 9.7 percent in September.
Loser: Buick Regal, 1300 sales, down 29.3 percent
As with the GMC Yukon, Buick Regal sales could have fallen last month because buyers know to wait for the refreshed model. Tellingly, however, the entire Buick brand took a hit last month, with every model (save the Encore crossover) seeing its sales tumble. In fact, the addition of the Buick Encore -- which was not on sale in September 2012 -- is the only reason that overall Buick brand sales rose 6.5 percent year-over-year, to 15,623 units. Without the Encore's new sales, Buick would have posted a 15.3-percent loss versus September 2012. Ouch.
Loser: Chevrolet Impala, 11,462 sales, down 24.9 percent
GM says the reason that Chevrolet Impala sales fell off is that it has "repositioned" the car with regard to fleets -- and in fact, overall the percentage of GM sales to fleets (such as rental-car companies) fell 4.3 percentage points to just 20.4 percent. (In fact, GM says that Impala retail sales rose 64 percent year-over-year.) Still, losing a quarter of its former sales volume doesn't bode well for the all-new Chevrolet Impala, even after the car received a strong recommendation from the influential Consumer Reports.
Winner: Chevrolet Silverado, 32,506 sales, down 10.8 percent
Its sales may have fallen, but the Silverado remained the best-selling GM product last month. And that pushed the pickup truck line to a total of 360,776 sales so far this year, up 21.0 percent versus the first nine months of 2012. Those are strong results even if GM can't quite keep up with Ford's pace. While the Silverado beat the Ram 1500 truck lineup last month (which posted 28,145 sales), it still couldn't stack up with the Ford F-Series's prodigious 60,456 September sales. Even adding in the GMC Sierra's 13,438 sales doesn't put the GM pickups on parity with the Ford.
Winner: Chevrolet Malibu, 14,487 sales, up 29.5 percent
The emergency refresh appears to have worked: Chevrolet Malibu sales are on the rise. After struggling all year (Malibu sales are down 13.7 percent through September) as customers proved indifferent to the redesigned sedan, Chevrolet has thoroughly revamped the Malibu for 2014. And as a result, it's one of the few Chevrolet vehicles to see its sales increase this month. We'll see whether that trend holds over the coming months, or whether it's simply a temporary spike.