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Tracking GM Global Vehicle Sales and Market Share

General Motors (NYSE:GM) is a leading automaker committed to delivering the best automobile products to the world.

GM has been actively expanding its market share not only in the U.S. but also globally by continuously rolling out new models, including electric vehicles and autonomous driving, hoping to cash in on the market shift from fossil fuel to battery electric vehicles.

From the company’s quarterly and annual financial statements, you can find tonnes of vehicle sales and market share data for all regions in the world.

These data are important and should be followed by investors who have already owned or are interested in buying GM’s stocks.

From the vehicle sales and market share data, investors can find out not only the state of the demand for GM’s products but also the growth of the company which directly correlates with the vehicle sales figures.

GM’s Retail Sales and Market Share

This article explores General Motors’ vehicle retail sales and market share in regions such as the United States, China and South America.

The reason that the U.S., China and South America are chosen for discussion here is that these regions contribute the biggest chunk of vehicle sales to GM.

Based on the 2020 annual filings, GM’s vehicle sales from these 3 regions alone made up roughly 87% of the company’s global retail sales.

The following snapshot shows GM’s retail sales data extracted from the 2020 annual filing:

GM vehicle sales statistics for 2020, 2019 and 2018

GM vehicle sales statistics for 2020, 2019 and 2018

As seen from the snapshot above, the majority of GM’s vehicle sales came largely from the U.S., China and South America.

GM Europe’s sales have ceased to exist after the company exited the European market in 2017.

GM’s Vehicle Sales and Revenue Recognition

Keep in mind that GM’s vehicle sales or retail sales data presented in the following charts do not translate to revenue or sales figures presented in the company’s income statement.

GM’s sales revenues presented in the income statements are only recognized from wholesale vehicle sales but not retail sales.

The retail vehicle sales data represent GM management’s good faith estimation of its market share in the respective regions.

Here is a quote from the company financial statements regarding retail vehicle sales data:

  • “While total vehicle sales data does not correlate directly to the revenue we recognize during a particular period, we believe it is indicative of the underlying demand for our vehicles.

    Total vehicle sales data represents management’s good faith estimate based on sales reported by GM’s dealers, distributors, and joint ventures, commercially available data sources such as registration and insurance data, and internal estimates and forecasts when other data is not available.”

Investors who are interested in GM’s wholesale vehicle sales that correlate with revenue recognized in the income statements can read about it here: General Motors Wholesale Vehicle Sales.

Take note that vehicle sales and retail sales are used interchangeably in this article and they represent the same thing.

GM’s Europe Vehicle Sales and Market Share

In addition, you may notice that GM Europe vehicle sales and market share data are not presented in this article.

The reason is that GM has sold off its GM Europe subsidiary in 2017.

As a result, the European vehicle sales and market share data have ceased to exist since 2017 or have been insignificant.

Let’s move on!

GM’s Vehicle Sales By Region (Yearly)

GM vehicle sales by region (yearly)

GM vehicle sales by region (yearly)

* Vehicle sales by region data is obtained from GM’s annual filings and does not come from restated results caused by business combinations, accounting standard changes, sales/acquisition of subsidiaries, etc.

Let’s first look at GM’s regional vehicle or retail sales by year for the period between FY2014 and FY2020.

According to the chart, China has been GM’s largest retail market for the past 7 years.

However, GM’s China vehicle sales topped out at 4 million units in 2017.

Since then, GM’s China vehicle sales have been going downhill in subsequent years and reached only 2.9 million units as of 2020, the lowest the company has ever reported between FY2014 and FY2020.

A similar downtrend is seen for GM’s vehicle retail sales in the U.S.

GM’s vehicle sales used to be slightly over 3 million units in the U.S.

However, that figure has dropped to only 2.5 million units as of FY2020, a year-over-year decrease of 6% from FY2019.

GM’s vehicle sales in South America had declined the most between FY2014 and FY2020.

Since FY2014, GM’s vehicle sale in South America has declined by more than 40%.

As of FY2020, GM’s South America retail sales totaled only 470,000 vehicles, the lowest the company has ever reported in the last 7 years.

GM’s Market Share By Region (Yearly)

GM market share by region (yearly)

GM market share by region (yearly)

* Market share by region data is obtained from GM’s annual filings and does not come from restated results caused by business combinations, accounting standard changes, sales/acquisition of subsidiaries, etc.

For GM’s market share, the company has the highest market share figure in the U.S. at 17.1% in FY2020.

Despite selling millions of vehicles in the U.S., GM’s market share in the U.S. has remained flat between FY2014 and FY2020.

GM’s market share in the U.S. declined to 16.5% in FY2019 but rose back to the 17% level in FY2020.

While China has been GM’s largest retail market, the company had a market share of only slightly above 10% in FY2020 in this region.

Between FY2014 and FY2020, GM’s market share in China has been on a decline and reached the lowest level at 11.6% as of FY2020.

Despite selling less than half a million vehicles in South America, GM had a market share of 14.9% in this region in FY2020.

Similarly, GM’s market share in South America also has been on a decline, plunging from 16.6% in FY2014 to 14.9% in FY2020.

GM’s Vehicle Sales in the United States (Quarterly)

GM vehicle sales in the U.S. (quarterly)

GM vehicle sales in the U.S. (quarterly)

* U.S. vehicle sales data is obtained from GM’s quarterly and annual filings and does not come from restated results caused by business combinations, accounting standard changes, sales/acquisition of subsidiaries, etc.

On a quarterly basis, GM’s vehicle sales in the U.S. have been mostly flat over the last 7 years.

Accordingly, GM delivered an average of 730,000 vehicles on a quarterly basis in the United States.

In 1Q 2021, GM’s retail sales of 642,000 vehicles in the U.S. represent a year-on-year increase of 4% compared to the same quarter a year ago.

GM attributed the retail recovery in 2021 Q1 to strong sales led by Buick and Cadillac, with a year-over-year deliveries increase of 35% and 23%, respectively.

GMC also performed quite well in 1Q 2021, with year-over-year total retail deliveries up 10.5%.

GMC’s pickup trucks and SUVs, including the Canyon, Sierra series and Acadia, performed particularly well in 1Q 2021, with retail sales up in double-digit growth rates.

On the contrary, GM’s Chevrolet total volume declined by 1.7% in 1Q 2021, led by models such as Impala, Sonic and Trax.

While GM’s Chevrolet has declined in total volume, its Bolt EV has performed exceptionally well in 1Q 2021.

GM’s Bolt EV retail sales increased 54% year-over-year to 9k units compared to only 6k units sold a year ago.

GM’s Vehicle Sales in the United States (TTM)

GM vehicle sales in the U.S. (TTM)

GM vehicle sales in the U.S. (TTM)

* TTM data consists of the sum of the quarterly data on a trailing 12-month or 4-quarter basis.

The quarterly plot may not show the trend of GM’s retail sales in the U.S.

The TTM or trailing 12-month plot above clearly displays the trend of GM’s U.S. retail volume.

As seen in the chart, GM experienced the worst decline in vehicle retail volume in the U.S. in FY2020.

GM’s U.S. retail volume declined to 2.5 million vehicles in 3Q20 but recovered slightly to 2.6 million vehicles in 1Q21.

GM’s Market Share in the United States

GM market share in the U.S.

GM market share in the U.S.

* U.S. market share data is obtained from GM’s earnings presentation and does not come from restated results caused by business combinations, accounting standard changes, sales/acquisition of subsidiaries, etc.

In terms of market share in the U.S., GM’s numbers have declined to 16.2% in 1Q 2021 compared to 17.3% market share in the same quarter a year ago.

Despite selling more vehicles in the U.S. in 1Q 2021 on a year-on-year basis, GM experienced a total market share decline of more than 1 percentage point.

A particular achievement worth mentioning is that GM’s pickup trucks and new SUV lineups from Chevrolet and GMC are selling particularly well, driven mainly by the pandemic-induced auto demand.

For this reason, some of GM’s manufacturing plants, especially those making large pickup trucks and SUVs, have all been operating on 3 shifts and at maximum overtime to meet the surging demand induced by the pandemic.

Overall, GM’s retail sales market share in the U.S. has neither improved nor declined drastically, indicating that the company has been able to maintain its strong position in the U.S. all these years.

Despite having been impacted by the COVID-19 outbreak, GM’s market share in the U.S. remained resilient throughout 2020 and 2021.

GM’s Vehicle Sales YoY Growth in the United States

GM retail sales YoY growth rates in the U.S.

GM retail sales YoY growth rates in the U.S.

* Year over year growth rates are calculated by the author using GM’s quarterly vehicle sales data obtained from the company’s earnings presentations.

GM’s vehicle sales in the U.S. were the worst in 2020 Q2 when vehicle deliveries dropped 34% YoY, thanks to the disrupted demand brought on by the COVID-19 pandemic.

Despite a V-shape recovery in Q3 2020, GM’s vehicle deliveries still lagged compared to the quarter a year ago and posted a YoY decline of 10% in the same quarter.

GM posted a YoY retail volume increase of 4% in 1Q 2021 in the U.S., driven mainly by strong demand for trucks, SUVs or crossovers.

Aside from the pandemic-induced demand for large vehicles, the low-interest-rate environment also helps to drive GM’s retail volume recovery in the U.S.

All in all, GM continued to post strong retail sales in 1Q 2021 after achieving the same result in the prior quarter.

GM’s Vehicle Sales in China (Quarterly)

GM vehicle sales in China (quarterly)

GM vehicle sales in China (quarterly)

* China vehicle sales data is obtained from GM’s quarterly and annual filings and does not come from restated results caused by business combinations, accounting standard changes, sales/acquisition of subsidiaries, etc.

China is the second most important market for GM after the U.S. but the company can only gain access to the Chinese market through joint ventures with a local Chinese automaker.

Again, GM’s vehicle sales data in the chart above do not translate to any revenue recognized in the income statement as GM does not own more than 50% of these joint ventures in China.

Moreover, these data also represent GM’s retail vehicle sales, which according to GM, do not translate to recognized revenue.

Only wholesale vehicle sales are recognized as revenue in GM’s income statements.

Here is a quote from GM’s filings regarding vehicle sales in China:

  • “The vehicle sales of our Automotive China JVs are not recorded in Total net sales and revenue. The results of our joint ventures are recorded in Equity income, which is included in EBIT-adjusted above.”

All told, GM’s vehicle sales in China rebounded significantly post 1Q 2020.

As of 1Q 2021, GM delivered another strong quarter in China after 4Q 2020, with retail sales reaching 780,000 vehicles in the 1st quarter.

GM’s retail volume in China in 1Q 2021 jumped as much as 69% compared to the same quarter a year ago.

GM attributed the success of the 1Q 2021 result to strong sales across all brands in China, including its joint ventures.

For example, GM brands such as the Buick and Cadillac reported year-over-year retail sales growth rates of 73% and 114%, respectively, in 2021 Q1.

Similarly, GM’s joint ventures in China, the Wuling brand, in particular, have grown more than 100% in retail volume in 1Q 2021.

Overall, GM’s vehicle sales in China have remained intact post 1Q 2020.

GM’s Vehicle Sales in China (TTM)

GM vehicle sales in China (ttm)

GM vehicle sales in China (ttm)

* TTM data consists of the sum of the quarterly data on a trailing 12-month or 4-quarter basis.

From a TTM perspective, GM’s retail sales in China have continued to trend upward as of 1Q 2021, reaching 3.2 million vehicles in the same quarter.

GM’s TTM retail sales in China in 1Q 2021 gained nearly 19% higher compared to the same quarter a year ago.

Although GM’s China retail volume reached a new high in the 1st quarter, the result was still very far off from the historical highs reported in FY2018 that totaled more than 4 million vehicles.

In short, GM still has a long way to go in China.

GM’s Market Share in China

GM market share in China

GM market share in China

* China market share data is obtained from GM’s earnings presentation and does not come from restated results caused by business combinations, accounting standard changes, sales/acquisition of subsidiaries, etc.

Over the last 7 years, GM’s market share in China, including its brands and China affiliates, has deteriorated severely since 2018 and plunged to the lowest at only 11.7% as of 1Q 2021, despite having strong demand in the same quarter.

GM’s market share in China has maintained at this level for quite a number of quarters since 2019.

While GM’s recovery in China has been gaining momentum in recent quarters, its market share in this region has not quite improved.

If this pattern continued in subsequent quarters, it means that GM is losing market share to competitors in China.

GM’s Vehicle Sales YoY Growth in China

GM retail sales YoY growth rates in China

GM retail sales YoY growth rates in China

* Year over year growth rates are calculated by the author using GM’s quarterly vehicle sales data obtained from the company’s earnings presentations.

While GM’s vehicle sales in the United States stagnated, the result was much better for the Chinese market.

In Q1 2021, GM delivered 69% more vehicles compared to the same quarter a year ago in China.

As mentioned, GM’s 1Q 2021 recovery in China was driven by strong sales seen across all brands, including its own and joint ventures.

GM’s Vehicle Sales in South America (Quarterly)

GM vehicle sales in South America (quarterly)

GM vehicle sales in South America (quarterly)

* South America vehicle sales data is obtained from GM’s quarterly and annual filings and does not come from restated results caused by business combinations, accounting standard changes, sales/acquisition of subsidiaries, etc.

South America represents GM’s 3rd largest market after the U.S. and China.

In the South American market, Brazil contributed the largest sales to General Motors, at over 60% of total sales in the region based on the 2021 Q1 result.

According to the chart, GM posted the best sales in South America in 2014 at more than 200,000 vehicles per quarter.

However, vehicle sales in South America have since declined and plunged to the lowest at only 57,000 units in 2Q 2020, disrupted mainly by the pandemic.

Subsequently, GM’s vehicle sales in South America recovered swiftly to 123,000 units in the following quarter and retail volume continued to maintain at this level moving into 2021.

In the 1st quarter of 2021, GM’s vehicle sales in South America reached 118,000 units, an 11% decline from the same quarter a year ago.

GM used to sell close to a million vehicles in South America back in 2014.

However, this figure has declined by more than 50% to only 470k units in FY2020.

GM’s Vehicle Sales in South America (TTM)

GM vehicle sales in South America (TTM)

GM vehicle sales in South America (TTM)

* TTM data consists of the sum of the quarterly data on a trailing 12-month or 4-quarter basis.

From a TTM perspective, GM’s South America retail sales had been the worst compared to China and the U.S.

As seen from the chart, GM’s retail volume in South America reached only 450k units as of 1Q 2021 on a TTM basis, a record low for GM.

While GM’s vehicle sales in the U.S. and China have both recovered in 2021, it was not the case for the South America region.

In South America, GM’s TTM vehicle sales continued to plunge to a new low in 2021.

GM’s Market Share in South America

GM market share in South America

GM market share in South America

* South America market share data is obtained from GM’s earnings presentation and does not come from restated results caused by business combinations, accounting standard changes, sales/acquisition of subsidiaries, etc.

Despite suffering the worst vehicle sale in 2020, GM managed to maintain its market share at 14.6% and 14.3% in 2020 2Q and 2020 3Q, respectively.

While GM sold fewer vehicles throughout 2020 in South America, GM’s market share in the region remained relatively stable, indicating that the company can maintain its strong position in the South American market.

In FY2020, GM’s quarterly market share in South America has declined slightly compared to FY2019 for all quarters.

As of 1Q 2021, GM’s market share in South America dropped to only 13.3%, a far cry from the 14.6% market share reported in the same quarter a year ago.

GM’s Total Vehicle Sales YoY Growth in South America

GM retail sales YoY growth rates in South America

GM retail sales YoY growth rates in South America

* Year over year growth rates are calculated by the author using GM’s quarterly vehicle sales data obtained from the company’s earnings presentations.

Based on the above chart, GM’s vehicle sales growth rates in South America had been the worst among the 3 regions.

As seen from the chart, GM reported negative growth rates for all quarters in FY2020.

The worst may not be over for GM’s South America as the company still suffered a year-over-year decline of 10% in vehicle sales in 2021 Q1.

Conclusion

To recap, GM’s retail volumes in the U.S. and China have both recovered as of 1Q 2021, on a quarterly as well as TTM basis.

GM’s retail volume in the South America region was still going downhill as of 1Q 2021.

GM’s vehicle sales recovered the most in China in 1Q 2021, at nearly 70% on a year-on-year basis.

Credits and References

1. Financial figures in all charts on this webpage were obtained and referenced from General Motors’ quarterly and annual filings which can be found in the following location: GM Sec Filings.

2. Featured images in this article are used under creative commons license and sourced from the following websites: GM Europe.

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{ 1 comment… add one }
  • bernard gress March 22, 2021, 9:39 pm

    Thanks for these great graphs and analysis! America is losing and in retreat on every front, it seems!

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