General Motors Starts the Year With a Sputter

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Cold, unpleasant, and snowy weather was at least partially to blame for a 10 percent decline in retail sales for the month of January at General Motors (NYSE:GM) when compared to January of last year, according to a company press release issued on Monday.

Fleet deliveries fell by 18 percent in part due to “a planned reduction” in rental vehicle sales; in all, total sales were down 12 percent to 171,486 vehicles. Ford had a similarly disappointing month, though Chrysler managed to put on gains of 8 percent despite the extreme weather conditions.

“We are building long-term value for our customers and it starts with award-winning new products,” Kurt McNeil, General Motors’ U.S. vice president of sales operations, said in the statement. “We have major launches underway and we are going to accelerate brand-building and other growth initiatives, which include executing our winning strategy to sell more pickup trucks with larger cabs, more features and advanced technology.”

The news wasn’t bad all the way through, though. The Chevrolet Cruze and Cadillac SRX reportedly had their best January sales ever, and the month saw the start of deliveries for the new Tahoe and Suburban, as well as the GMC Yukon models.

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For the year, General Motors is projecting that light vehicle sales will range from 16 million to 16.5 million units, which would be the industry’s best year since 2007, when 16.2 million vehicles were sold. The company is hoping to “earn modestly higher market share” under that assumption, per its press release.

GM also noted that in the last quarter of 2013, half the light-duty pickups “were premium-contented models that transacted at prices of $40,000 or more,” up from a third for the 2013 calendar year and 20 percent in 2012. The company said this mix continued to improve throughout January.

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