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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 Q3 quarterly 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 Q3 quarterly filing:

General Motors total vehicle sales 3Q 2020

General Motors total vehicle sales 3Q 2020

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.

Let’s get started!

GM’s Vehicle Sales in the United States

GM vehicle sales in the U.S.

GM vehicle sales in the U.S.

The plots above present GM’s quarterly total or retail vehicle sales in the U.S. for the past 6 years between 2014 and 2020.

According to the chart, GM’s quarterly vehicle sales in the U.S. has been mostly flat over the last 6 years.

Accordingly, GM delivered an average of 750,000 vehicles on a quarterly basis in the United States.

GM’s retail sales in the U.S. plunged considerably in 1Q 2020 when total vehicle sales plummeted to only 618,000 units, driven mainly by the disruption brought on by the COVID-19 pandemic.

The decline in vehicle sales in the U.S. continued into 2Q 2020 when GM delivered only 492,000 vehicles.

However, GM’s retail sales in the U.S. recovered in 3Q 2020 when the reported figure totaled 665,000 vehicles.

Despite being a record high in 2020, the 3Q 2020 result still represents a year-on-year decline of roughly 10% for the company.

GM attributed the recovery in 2020 Q3 to strong sales of Chevrolet, Cadillac and GMC large pickup trucks and SUVs.

For example, the sales of GM’s SUV, including the Chevrolet Blazer was up 45% year over year – its best quarter ever.

Similarly, GM’s Cadillac XT6, a mid-size SUV, was up 45% year over year in 2020 Q3.

GM’s Market Share in the United States

GM market share in the U.S.

GM market share in the U.S.

In terms of market share in the U.S., GM’s numbers have slightly increased to 16.6% in 3Q 2020 compared to the 16.3% market share in the prior quarter.

Year over year, GM’s market share in the U.S. remained unchanged in 3Q 2020.

Some notable achievements worth mentioning is that the Buick Encore GX and the Chevrolet Trailblazer managed to capture a combined 11% of retail market share in 2020 3Q for the small SUV segment, according to J.D. Power.

Additionally, GM’s combined light- and heavy-duty pickups gained 1.6 percentage points in retail market share to capture 37.5% of the segment since 1Q 2020, according to J.D. Power.

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 SUV, 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 remained resilient throughout 2020.

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.

The chart above shows GM’s retail vehicle sales year-over-year (YoY) growth rate in the U.S. between 2015 and 2020.

GM’s vehicle sales in the U.S. were the worst in 2020 Q2 when vehicle deliveries dropped 34% YoY. Thanks to the stalled 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.

If not for the super low auto loan interest rates which have boosted retail auto sales as well as the pandemic-induced demand for trucks and SUV, GM’s retail sales growth rate in 2020 3Q would have been much worse compared to the current result.

On average, GM’s YoY growth rate in the U.S. from 2015 to 2020 is about -2.4% between 2014 and 2020.

In other words, GM’s total vehicle sales in the U.S. have slightly declined on average for the past 6 years on a quarterly basis.

GM’s Vehicle Sales in China

GM vehicle sales in China

GM vehicle sales in China

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.”

Coming back to the chart, GM’s vehicle sales in China are essentially heading for a serious decline since 2019, as shown by the declining trend in the chart.

In 1Q 2020, GM experienced the worst retail sales in China since 2014 when only 462,000 vehicles were sold, representing a YoY decline of more than 40%.

Nonetheless, vehicle sales in China have more than doubled to 714,000 units in 2Q 2020 from the prior quarter.

Year over year, the Q2 2020 figure still represents a decline of roughly 5%.

As of 3Q 2020, GM delivered another strong quarter in China after 2Q 2020, with retail sales totaling 771,000 vehicles.

GM’s 2020 3Q result represents a year on year increase of 12%, a 1st positive growth after experiencing 8 consecutive quarters of negative growth.

GM attributed the success of the 3Q 2020 quarter to strong sales across all brands in China, including its joint ventures.

For example, GM brands such as the Buick and Cadillac have reported year over year retail sales growth rates of 26% and 28%, respectively, in 2020 Q3.

In China, Buick’s Envision line of vehicles has done exceptionally well in 2020 3Q, with deliveries topping more than 34,000 units in the same quarter when sales surged 48% year over year.

GM’s joint ventures in China such as the Baojun and Wuling brands have each delivered 100,000 and 270,000 vehicles, respectively, in 3Q 2020.

Overall, the long-term trend of the plot indicates that GM’s vehicle sales in China have been trending downward since 2018, but with recovery on the horizon in 3Q 2020.

GM’s Market Share in China

GM market share in China

GM market share in China

Over the last 6 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 11.4% in 2Q 2020, despite experiencing strong demand in the same quarter.

As of Q3 2020, GM’s market share in China recovered slightly to 11.6%, but the figure was still a far cry from its historical high.

GM’s market share in China may go back to the high double-digits figure if the company can maintain its current growth momentum while waiting for the vehicle market to recover from the COVID-19 impact.

GM’s Vehicle Sales YoY Growth in China

GM retail sales YoY growth rates in China

GM retail sales YoY growth rates in China

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

In Q3 2020, GM delivered 12% more vehicles compared to the same quarter a year ago.

According to GM, the strong sales growth in 2020 Q3 was driven largely by increased demand for the company’s luxury vehicles, midsize and large SUV and MPV, led by the Cadillac XT5 and the Buick Envision.

As mentioned, GM delivered roughly 250,000 Buick brand vehicles and 65,000 Cadillac brand vehicles in China in 3Q 2020 alone.

On average, GM’s YoY growth rate for vehicle sales in China was -3% in the last 6 years, signaling that year over year growth has actually declined on average between 2014 and 2020.

Based on the chart, GM reported the 1st positive growth rate in Q3 2020 after experiencing 8 consecutive quarters of negative growth.

GM’s recovery momentum in China may continue in subsequent quarters considering that the country continues to recover from the COVID-19 disruption.

GM’s Vehicle Sales in South America

GM vehicle sales in South America

GM vehicle sales in South America

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 70% of total sales in the region based on the 2020 Q3 filings.

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.

GM’s vehicle sales in South America recovered swiftly to 123,000 units in Q3 2020.

While GM’s vehicle deliveries may have bounced back in 3Q 2020 from the prior quarter, it was still one of the worst in the last 5 years.

Year to date, GM’s retail sales in South America in 2020 has been one of the worst since 2014, with total vehicle deliveries totaling a little more than 300,000, the lowest in the last 5 years.

GM used to sell close to a million vehicles in South America in the 1st 9 months back in 2014.

Sequentially, GM delivered an astounding 115% more vehicles compared to the prior quarter.

GM’s recovery in South America in the 3rd quarter may continue well into the rest of 2020 and possibly 2021, provided that the pandemic will be under control.

GM’s Market Share in South America

GM market share in South America

GM market share in South America

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.

The figure declined slightly year over year compared to the 15.1% and 15.5% market share reported a year ago in the same quarters.

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.

GM’s market share in South American may recover to its historical high if the company can maintain the recovery momentum for the rest of 2020 and 2021.

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

Based on the above chart, GM suffered the worst decline in vehicle sales in South America throughout all quarters in 2020.

As seen from the chart, GM reported 3 consecutive quarters of negative growth rates throughout 2020.

The worst quarter happened in 2Q 2020 when vehicle sales in South America contracted 65% year over year.

The worst may not be over for GM as the company still suffered a year-over-year decline of 30% in 2020 Q3, despite having strong sales in the same quarter.

GM should do whatever it takes to maintain its market position in South America, considering that it represents one of the company’s largest automobile markets in the world.

Conclusion

To recap, GM experienced the worst vehicle sales in 2020 in 3 of its largest markets, namely the U.S., China and South America.

GM delivered the least vehicles in the U.S. and South America in 2Q 2020 on a year over year basis.

However, GM managed to report a recovery in China when retail sales increased by 10% year on year.

Credits and References

1. Financial figures in all charts and tables on this webpage were obtained and referenced from General Motors’ quarterly and annual filings between 2014 and 2020 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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