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Saturday, April 2, 2011

Cadillac helps fuel boost in GM sales

Cadillac helps fuel boost in GM sales

Lansing-made vehicles spark 9.6 percent rise

Sales of General Motors Co. vehicles in the U.S. revved up 9.6 percent in March, fueled by an increase in small car sales, the Detroit-based automaker said Friday.

GM reported it sold 206,621 cars, trucks and SUVs in the U.S. last month, compared to sales of 188,546 vehicles in March 2010. With sales of discontinued brands such as Pontiac and Saturn in March 2010 factored out, sales increased 11.4 percent last month.

The automaker credits strong demand for the Chevrolet Cruze compact sedan for much of its success last month, but several of GM's Lansing-made models also posted significant sales increases.

In a month that saw escalating fuel prices, GM said that many of its more fuel-efficient models drew buyer interest, from small cars to crossovers that offer a fuel savings compared to full-size SUVs.

"Our plan was to get out of the gates quickly in the first quarter and we succeeded," Don Johnson, vice president of U.S. Sales Operations, said in a statement. "Consumers responded favorably to the value of our broad lineup of fuel-efficient cars, trucks and crossovers."

Among locally made models, the Cadillac CTS reported the strongest sales increase. There were 3,904 entry-level luxury sedan CTSes sold last month, a 36 percent increase over the 2,870 sedans sold the same month a year earlier.

The CTS is made at the Lansing Grand River assembly plant along with the Cadillac STS. STS sales grew 18.8 percent last month, with 475 luxury sedans sold compared to sales of 400 STSes in March 2010.
Delta plant vehicles

Among the crossover vehicles made at the Lansing Delta Township plant, only the Buick Enclave recorded a sales increase last month. Enclave sales rose 8.4 percent in March, with 4,899 Enclaves sold in March compared to 4,519 sold in March 2010.

Chevrolet Traverse sales slid 4.7 percent, with sales of 8,230 Traverses last month compared to 8,633 in the same month a year earlier. GMC Acadia sales were off 5.9 percent compared to March 2010, with 6,418 vehicles sold compared to sales of 6,824 in March 2010.
Improved portfolio

Mike Wall, senior manager of strategic analysis for IHS Automotive, said GM is better positioned now to cope with rising gas prices than it was the last time the cost of filling up spiked in 2008.

Now, "they have a significantly improved portfolio of vehicles on the smaller end," Wall said.

Even so, the sales of some larger vehicles, including the crossovers made at Lansing Delta Township, may see sales fluctuate while gas prices remain high.

Ford's U.S. results bested GM, rising 16 percent in March.

Many foreign automakers credited small car sales with sales gains. March sales in the U.S. rose 32 percent at Hyundai, 27 percent at Nissan, 23.5 percent at Honda, 13 percent at Subaru.

Only Toyota showed a deceleration in sales, with U.S. auto sales falling almost 6 percent.

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