Skip to main content

Why Can't GM Sell Cars?

GM’s press release about its great sales gains in August leaves out an important point.


GM is proud to announce that the company picked up a percentage point of market share in the U.S. retail market in August. Truck and crossover sales are robust at GM. Sierra and Silverado are up about 9% this month, capping a solid 16-month run of gains. The new Colorado and Canyon together sold 10K trucks in August, the most the factory can produce. Crossovers are way up. The other side of the story is that GM’s car sales are absolutely horrible.

Cadillac, in particular, does not have a single car model selling well right now. The ATS and CTS sports sedans that every automotive reviewer drools over and writes love letters about (this writer included) are down dramatically. CTS is down by fully one-third compared to last August. ATS sedans and coupes only sold a total of 2,449 vehicles in August. The excuse nobody is buying cars due to gas prices is not valid. Acura sold twice as many mid-size TLX sports sedans in August as it did last August (4,353). Infinity's Q50 was up by 45% (3,839). Caddy’s big XTS was down by half compared to last August. GM’s other premium brand, Buick, has nothing to brag about either. Verano was down by half, Regal down by 23%, Lacrosse, up 1.2%.

It is not just premium and luxury GM cars that are selling poorly. The Camaro is down 23%, but can use the excuse that it is in transition to the new 2016 model. GM’s compact Cruze is down 37%, four times the decline the Nissan Sentra has seen. Volt was down 45% for the month. The Malibu was up a respectable 7.4% but still sells at less than half the volume of the sales leaders in its class (Accord and Camry).

Truck sales and crossover sales are without a doubt being helped by low gas prices. GM is well positioned to capitalize on that. However, GM’s car sales seem to be moving out of pace with the industry.


James (not verified)    September 2, 2015 - 12:31PM

It's partly because of the way they option the base model - like without cruise control - and then charge $2.5K for the LT1 package that has CC, but a lot of other nonsense as well. Honda puts it all in their LX package without a big premium. That's always turned me off.

JeremyK (not verified)    September 2, 2015 - 1:28PM

More than just the Camaro are phasing out. Volt, Cruze, and Malibu are all due to be refreshed in 2016. GM has a long road ahead in convincing potential buyers that it can make more than just great trucks. It's going to take a few more years of consistent great quality and awards for buyers to wake up to the current reality that GM is making many competitive high quality products. Granted, not in all segments, but they're getting there.

John Goreham    September 2, 2015 - 2:29PM

In reply to by JeremyK (not verified)

I am glad you mentioned the quality awards. GM is very rapidly moving to the top position. Hopefully in a year the new models and the recognition of GM's quality today will boost sales significantly. I would love to write that story as a follow up to this one. Cheers,

Mark Day (not verified)    September 3, 2015 - 8:53PM

"Why Can't GM Sell Cars?" Their quality/reliability is not matching Toyota's. Why take a chance? - except for their unique vehicles - Corvette, Camaro & Volt. And I didn't appreciate being forced to bail out "Government Motors".

Dave Suton (not verified)    September 7, 2016 - 7:36PM

In reply to by Mark Day (not verified)

Yeah, toyota never has a recall, right? Everything is top quality? Joke! They just recalled 400k ravs for problems. Quit listening to CR and turn off fox Spews channel and have a taste of reality.

Dave Suton (not verified)    September 12, 2015 - 9:15AM

GM makes some great cars. Too bad people are sheep and are still buying Toyotas that still need the gas pedals cut in half.

salmon8ter (not verified)    October 10, 2015 - 4:46AM

In reply to by Dave Suton (not verified)

This whole sheep excuse is getting tired and old. Get of the GM bandwagon and face the truth already. Toyota makes better cars--get used to it. What's even more funny is the fact that you brought up Toyotas UA issue--as if GMs faulty ignition issue was no big deal, as the 120+ dead if it was a big deal. You are a blind fool.

Russ (not verified)    December 26, 2016 - 12:35PM

Here is why GM can't sell cars.
1. ECM Module.
2. Emission 5 9 2015.
3. Engine Coolant Recall Nov 4 2014.
4. Negative Battery Terminal Feb 2 2015.
5. Steering Friction Issue Dec 1 2014.
6. Misfire caused by leaks in the Plastic Valve Pan Cover. Aug, 2016
7. Trunk Button Quit working. Not fixed.
8. Cruise Control, who really needs it. I would prefer high-end audio option. Not bundled as option on more expensive option.
9. Depreciates faster than you can pay for it.
10. Engine issues covered up to 100k miles, only if you have issues. Really.
What next? We as consumers need to be reimbersted by GM for Time off work and Pay Plus Aggravation fee, which should be sizable.

Mark Day (not verified)    December 26, 2016 - 3:27PM

In reply to by Russ (not verified)

Compare: My 2012 Toyota RAV4 V6 4-wheel drive. Number of problems in 4 years - zero. It's known as zero defects, a goal of reputable companies. Previous, for forty years, I owned all GM vehicles, which were all defective from the day purchased to the day sold. When problems presented to GM/Chevrolet, rather than being fixed - the customer - me - was blamed and I've had their lawyers sicked on me also. Then I was forced to bail out these nasty folks - theft from me to GM. What's not to like?

Russ (not verified)    December 26, 2016 - 6:20PM

In reply to by Mark Day (not verified)

I agreeMark. I had a 1992 camry, no issues. 1999 Camry, no issues. 2001 Echo, no issues. The Echo had 200k and did not even need a front end alignment. 1998 Buick Regal, bad transmission at 10k miles. 1995 GMC Sonoma with a rattle in floor. Each time it went to stop issue stopped. They left a hose clamp between tranny support and tranny. Took five trips. 60 mile round trip each time. Toyota here I come.