General Motors (NYSE: GM ) said on Wednesday that August was its best month for U.S. sales since 2008, before the painful bankruptcy and restructuring that transformed the American auto giant.
GM said that its U.S. retail sales were up 22% in August, thanks to strong results across the board: The Buick and Cadillac brands both posted big gains, and several GM models – including the Chevy Volt – had their best sales months ever.
Big gains for many of GM's new models
GM's overall sales, including fleet sales, were up 15% on the month, ahead of analyst estimates. As at rival Ford (NYSE: F ) , GM's fleet sales lagged in August because of the timing of recent big deliveries. GM executives expect fleet sales to pick up in coming months; it's not a concern.
Good news for GM in August? It's a long list, as many of GM's newer products continued to gain significant ground. Buick sales were up almost 37%, with big gains for the Enclave crossover and the LaCrosse sedan. The compact Verano posted its best month ever, the company said.
It was a similar story at Cadillac. The revival of Cadillac is one of GM's most important global initiatives, and it continued to show good progress, with overall sales for the brand up 38% in August. The SRX crossover posted a gain of over 38%, and the big XTS sedan's recent sales surge continued as well. With an all-new version of the midsized CTS due at dealers soon, Cadillac is showing market momentum for the first time in many years.
Chevrolet wasn't left out. Eye-popping retail gains of 93% for the Malibu and 76% for the Impala may have been helped by some tricky dealer-only incentives, but big gains for the small Sonic and Spark came thanks to GM's much-improved competitiveness at the lower end of the car market. And sales of the Volt were up over 18%, thanks in part to a recent price cut.
At the other extreme, GM's big SUVs like the Tahoe and Suburban also had a strong month, up 29% as a group, and sales of GM's full-sized pickups were up 15%.
So is GM back?
GM is in the process of rolling out a slew of all-new models. Nearly every new model we've seen from GM since the Chevy Cruze rolled out three years ago has been a big improvement over its predecessor. Some – the Chevy Impala and Cadillac ATS are shining examples – have proven to be very competitive with the world's best. And many of those overhauled models have been posting strong sales gains recently.
GM has quite a few more new vehicles on the way between now and the end of next year. If they turn out to be as strong as the best of GM's recent new models, GM's sales and profits – and its stock – could be set for significant gains over the next several quarters.
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