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Data Point

Cox Automotive Analysis: General Motors’ Q4 2023 U.S. Market Performance


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Article Highlights

  1. GM’s fourth-quarter sales were roughly flat from a year earlier but market share slipped.
  2. GM boosted incentives by 78% to an average of $2,462 per vehicle.
  3. GM eked out an ATP gain reaching $53,310.

The financial damage from the six-week strike by the UAW against the three Detroit automakers will be the focus of upcoming earnings announcements, starting with General Motors. GM posts fourth-quarter and full-year financial results before the market opens on Tuesday, Jan. 30.

Since the strike started late in the third quarter, the impact for that quarter was minimal. The bulk of the fallout is expected for the fourth quarter. Analysts forecast the cost from lower U.S. production in the quarter to be substantial.

Wall Street analysts will also pay close attention to GM’s performance in China, where sales were down 1% in the fourth quarter, and any fallout from problems with GM’s autonomous vehicle unit, Cruise. This week, it was revealed that the Department of Justice and the Securities and Exchange Commission have opened an investigation into Cruise following an October incident here where one of its cars was involved in an accident with a pedestrian. The accident led to GM suspending Cruise’s robotaxi service, changing Cruise’s management and cutting jobs.

In terms of U.S. sales, GM endured the strike with minimal damage. Sales for the fourth quarter held steady, with the negative impact mostly from those models built at plants that the UAW struck. GM’s U.S. market share dipped, incentives rose, and average transaction price eked out an increase.

Here are some data points from Cox Automotive on General Motors’ fourth-quarter performance in its home U.S. market.

GM Sales Hold Steady in UAW Strike Aftermath

GM sales for the fourth quarter of 2023 were roughly flat from a year ago at 619,834 vehicles versus 619,692 in the quarter a year earlier, according to Cox Automotive calculations. GM is far from pre-pandemic sales levels of more than 700,000 units in the quarter.

GM U.S. Sales Performance for Q4 2023

For the year, GM managed to hold onto its U.S. sales crown, selling 2.6 million vehicles for the year, up 14% from 2022 and its best year since 2019, when it sold 2.9 million vehicles before the pandemic and global chip shortage.

In the fourth quarter, with basically only four models, Buick posted the biggest sales gain among GM brands, with sales up 57% to 42,162 vehicles. Sales of the volume-leading Encore GX soared by 52% to 13,755 units. Enclave sales jumped 42% to 10,929 units. The Envision had a 23% gain to 9,439 units. The new Envista chipped in 7,917 sales.

Chevrolet, also supply-constrained on some models from the strike, sold 406,848 vehicles, about flat from the year-earlier quarter. Among models, the brand had more sales declines than increases. The Blazer, which has a new version on the market, had a 3% sales gain to 17,116 units. The Camaro, being discontinued, had a 16% gain to 6,340 cars. The all-important Silverado pickup truck eked out a 1% gain to 140,359, its highest sales since 2020, but it is still far off its sales levels of 2018 and 2019. The new, affordable Trax kicked in a hefty 44,127 units. Sales of the Equinox rose 20% ahead of the launch of its completely revised replacement.

The UAW strike clearly hurt a few models. The Chevrolet Colorado got hit the hardest in terms of sales. The Missouri plant that makes GM’s midsize trucks and commercial vans was the first to be struck by the union. Colorado sales dropped by 40% as inventory evaporated. Likewise, the Express commercial van had sales down 38%, and sales of the Malibu sedan plummeted as the strike hit its plant. Sales of the profit-generating Tahoe and Suburban were down, though GM settled with the UAW when it threatened to strike the Texas plant that makes GM’s large SUVs.

Cadillac, which was supply-constrained heading into the UAW strike, saw sales dip 7% to 36,378 units. Only the Escalade had a sales gain, up 5% to 6,648 units. The electric Lyriq kicked in 3,820 sales. All other models had sales down by double digits from the previous year.

GMC experienced a 7% decline in sales to 134,296 units. The full-size Sierra pickup truck had a 10% hike in sales to just shy of 80,000 units, its highest sales volume in at least the past six years for a fourth quarter. The Hummer EV pickup truck added 825 sales; the Hummer EV SUV scored 1,203 sales. All other GMC models suffered double-digit declines in sales.

GM’s commercial BrightDrop unit sold 150 Zevo 600 EVs in the quarter.

GM Loses More Than a Point of Market Share

GM’s market share dropped to 15.88%, down 1.25 percentage points, according to Cox Automotive calculations. It was GM’s lowest market share for any fourth quarter except for the pandemic year of 2021, when it fell to 13.21%. For comparison, in the fourth quarter of 2018, GM’s market share was 17.87%, the highest in the past six years for the quarter.

Buick was the only gainer. Buick’s market share edged up from 0.75% to 1.08%. Cadillac’s share fell to .93% from 1.08% a year ago. Chevrolet was down nearly a full percentage point to 10.42%. GMC’s share fell to 3.44% from 3.98% a year ago.

GM Boosted Incentives by 78% to an Average of $2,462 per Vehicle

GM boosted incentives a hefty 78% to an average of $2,462 per vehicle, according to Cox Automotive calculations. While higher than a year ago, GM’s incentives remain well below pre-pandemic levels when they were in the range of $4,600 to $5,400 per vehicle.

GM U.S. Average Incentives for Q4 2023

Each of GM’s brands received a hefty boost individually, but the average per-vehicle incentive remained well below pre-pandemic levels for each brand.

GMC got the biggest boost to the highest level of incentives among GM’s brands. Incentives were up 185% to an average of $3,059 per vehicle. Buick had an 86% hike to an average of $2,099 per vehicle, the lowest per-vehicle average of any GM brand. Chevrolet incentives were up 58% to an average of $2,999 per vehicle. Cadillac incentives were up 36% to an average of $2,256 per vehicle.

GM Eked Out ATP Gain to $53,310

GM eked out a 1% gain in average transaction price (ATP) to $53,310, according to Cox Automotive calculations. This was the second-highest ATP for any fourth quarter aside from the chip-constrained fourth quarter of 2020, when it was $53,848.

GM U.S. Average Transaction Price for Q4 2023

GMC had the biggest hike in ATP, up 7% to $66,706. GMC models with the highest price tags and that generate the biggest profits got the biggest boost in ATP. The Savana commercial van was up 23% to $50,929, the highest ever for the quarter. Yukon and Yukon XL, GMC’s priciest models except for Hummers, had 8% increases in ATP to $83,311 and $86,877, respectively. The GMC Hummer EV pickup had a 10% increase in ATP to $121,529. The ATP on the SUV version was $114,484.

GMC’s least expensive models had slightly lower ATPs. The Terrain was down 2% to $36,136, off last year’s peak but still higher than before 2022. The Acadia was down 3% to $45,984 but the highest except for the last two peak years.

Cadillac’s average transaction price increased 5% to $73,239. The electric Lyriq, on the market for only a couple of years, had the biggest price hike, up 6% to $68,180. Cadillac’s most expensive models – and biggest revenue generators – the Cadillac Escalade and Escalade ESV gained a couple of percent increases to $113,442 and $115,457, respectively. The XT4 was the only other gainer, up 3% to $46,715.

Chevrolet’s overall ATP was up less than 1% to $48,748, with a mix of ATP gainers and losers. In many cases, the gainers were models in short supply due to the UAW strike, so they were not discounted. Some set new ATP records. Among them were the Colorado, with a 14% increase in ATP to $42,773, and the Express commercial van, up 18% to $54,440.

The Silverado had a 4% increase for a record $61,250 ATP, likely driven by the medium and heavy-duty models of the full-size truck. The Corvette remained Chevrolet’s priciest model, with a 21% increase in ATP to $106,032. Suburban and Tahoe had 5% and 4% gains, to $76,275 and $72,634, respectively.

The now-discontinued Bolt held its ATP at $30,675, while the Bolt EUV’s ATP dropped 7% to $32,349. Chevrolet’s least expensive model is the new Trax, which has an ATP of $24,790.

Buick has the lowest ATP of GM’s brands due to its lowest-priced Encore GX, posting Buick’s highest volume. The brand had a 5% drop in ATP to $37,661. That was down from the last two peak years but higher than before then. Only the Envision had a higher ATP than a year ago, up 4% to $41,062. The Enclave remains Buick’s most expensive model, with an ATP of $51,975. The Encore GX is Buick’s lowest-priced model, with an ATP of $29,865.

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