GM U.S. vehicle sales fall 1.5% during the first quarter, underperforming other major automakers

DETROIT — General Motors on Tuesday reported a 1.5% decline in first-quarter U.S. vehicle sales compared to a year ago, as the overall auto industry normalizes after years of disruptions and volatile results.

The Detroit automaker said the decline to 594,233 vehicles sold during the first three months of the year was largely due to a 22.9% year-over-year decline in sales to fleet customers. Retail sales to customers were up 6%, GM said.

GM’s sales are below expectations for the overall industry, which Cox Automotive forecast to be up 5.5% from a year earlier.

Buick was the only GM brand to report a sales increase during the quarter, up 16.4% from a year earlier. The GMC truck brand was off about 5%, while Cadillac and Chevrolet were both off about 2%.

GM reported sales of its full-size pickups totaled roughly 197,000 units during the first quarter, up 3.6% from a year earlier, marking its best performance during that time since the first quarter of 2020.

“GM gained retail market share year-over-year with strong mix and pricing, our inventories are in good shape heading into the spring, and production and deliveries of Ultium Platform EVs are rising, led by the Cadillac Lyriq. We’re on plan,” GM North America President Marissa West said in a statement.

Electric vehicle sales

Sales of GM’s all-electric vehicles, closely watched by Wall Street, remained miniscule during the first quarter. EV sales totaled 16,425 units, or 2.8% of the automaker’s overall sales during the period.

GM is in the process of ramping up production of its newest EVs, including the Cadillac Lyriq and the Blazer EV, while winding down sales of Chevrolet Bolt models, which were discontinued in December.

First-quarter sales of the Blazer EV were limited, totaling 600 units, due to a stop-sale that was in effect from late December until early March to resolve software issues.

Hyundai and other automakers

Other automakers reported varying results for the first quarter, as inventories and sales normalize to levels not seen since before the Covid-19 pandemic began.

Hyundai Motor America CEO Randy Parker noted the industry is getting more competitive as automakers attempt to maintain profits of recent years without oversubsidizing sales.

“The market is changing swiftly, and it’s gotten a lot more competitive,” Parker said Tuesday during a media call.

Hyundai reported its best March sales ever last month, at 76,920 vehicles sold, but its first-quarter sales were only up 0.2% compared to a year earlier.

Separately, Hyundai’s Genesis luxury brand reported sales of 14,777 vehicles during the first quarter, up 7.3% year over year.

Here is how other major automakers performed in U.S. sales compared to the first quarter of 2023:

  • Toyota Motor reported a 16% increase in sales, including a 16.1% increase in March. The company sold nearly 388,000 vehicles during the first three months of the year.
  • Honda Motor reported a 17.3% jump in sales to nearly 334,000 vehicles sold, including a 10.1% increase in March.
  • Kia reported sales of 179,621 vehicles during the first quarter, off 2.5% year over year.

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