General Motors Company (GM)
December 2012 U.S. Vehicle Sales Conference Call
January 3, 2013 11:00 AM ET
Jim Cain – Manager, Financial Communications
Kurt McNeil – VP, U.S. Sales Operations
Mark Reuss – VP; President, North America
Don Johnson – VP, Chevrolet Sales and Service
Mustafa Mohatarem – Chief Economist
Chase Hawkins – VP, Cadillac Sales and Service
John Murphy – Bank of America Merrill Lynch
Chris Ceraso – Credit Suisse
Brian Johnson – Barclays Capital
Rod Lache – Deutsche Bank
Pat Archambault – Goldman Sachs
Adam Jonas – Morgan Stanley
Colin Langan – UBS Securities
Tom Krisher – The Associated Press
Jeff Bennett – Wall Street Journal
Tim Higgins – Bloomberg
Brent Snavely – Detroit Free Press
Melissa Burden – Detroit News
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Your speakers for today are Kurt McNeil and Jim Cain. I would now like to turn the conference over to Mr. Jim Cain, GM Communications. Please go ahead, sir.
Hi, good morning, everyone and Happy New Year. Welcome to the GM December sales call. We’ll keep going in just a second. As always, Kurt McNeil, our Vice President of U.S. Sales Operations, will lead the discussion. We’ll have Q&A with a group of executives from our different brands, and also joining us this month is Mark Reuss, President of GM North America.
One final comment before we get going. The discussion here is covered by our disclosure on forward-looking statements that you can read in the press release. And with that, Kurt, the floor is yours.
Thank you, Jim. Good morning and thank you for joining us everyone. Sincere Happy New Year to everyone on the call. As you’ve seen from the press release we issued about an hour ago, GM is reporting its highest December sales in five years with deliveries reaching 245,733 units. That’s up 5% versus a very strong December of 2011, a month that had actually one more additional selling day.
December 2012 also marked our best month of the year from a retail sales standpoint. In fact, Chevrolet, Cadillac and Buick posted higher retail sales and all four of our brands posted higher total sales last month compared with the year ago.
Our full-size pickup trucks sold exceptionally well. We sold more full-size pickups in December than in any month since September of 2008, and this gave us truck leadership for the month. We likely achieved our highest full-size pickup truck share of the year with year-over-year sales of the Chevrolet Silverado up 6% and sales of the GMC Sierra up 13%.
We also had our best month for compact crossovers, which underscores the strength of the Chevrolet Equinox and GMC Terrain month-in and month-out. Cadillac continues to build momentum. December was the brand’s seventh consecutive month of retail sales growth.
Our fleet business performed very well. I’ll focus on the full-year result because they really show our balanced approach to this important part of the business. Our fleet mix for the month was 21%, and for the year it was 26%, which is exactly on plan.
Annual volume was up 5%. We also passed a very important fuel economy milestone. In 2012, GM delivered more than 1 million cars and crossovers in the United States that achieved at least 30 miles per gallon on the EPA highway test cycle. No domestic automaker has ever done this because only GM has created so many products in segments that were once dominated by Asian brands including mini cars, small cars and compacts.
You can really see the impact in the fourth quarter. Our combined sales in these particular segments were up 72% year-over-year in October, 51% in November and 52% in the month of December. On a nameplate basis, the Chevrolet Spark and Sonic continue to sell very well. December also marked the second best month for the new Buick Verano and we saw a 27% sales increase for the Chevrolet Cruze and a 72% increase for the Chevrolet Volt.
These products give us a great foundation for the future, both from a sales and a technology standpoint. And we’re going to keep investing in these new products and advanced technology to exceed the increasingly high expectations of our customers. In fact, in 2013, GM will introduce a new 2.0-liter clean diesel Chevrolet Cruze and all-new Chevrolet Impala powered by eAssist and a stunning Cadillac ELR plug-in.
We will also expand the availability of turbocharged four-cylinder engines with vehicles like the unique Buick Encore small crossover, which achieves 33 miles per gallon on the highway. Taken as a whole, we believe, GM will offer the most technologically advanced and diverse range of cars and crossovers in the industry this year.
Another major story for GM is the velocity that we achieved and sustained throughout the month. Let me share a few headline numbers and you’ll see what I mean.
In the month of December, we increased our retail sales 38% from November, which is more than double the industry’s gain. Our strength was across the board, retail car sales increased 24% from November, retail truck sales increased 60% and retail crossover sales increased 28%. One of our best performing cars in December was the Chevrolet Malibu, which posted a 32% retail sales increase from November. That marks the second consecutive monthly retail sales increase for the car. The Buick Enclave also had an outstanding month. Retail sales were up 26% from November for the vehicle’s best month ever. That helped propel Buick to its third consecutive year of retail sales gains.