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Tracking GM Global Vehicle Sales and Market Share

General Motors (NYSE:GM) is one of the leading automobile companies not only in the United States but also globally. In recent years, the company has been actively expanding its automotive industry in China by continuously rolling out new models, hoping to cash in from the vast market in China.

As such, the company’s vehicle sales and market share data from all regions in the world are some of the most sought-after information among investors. From the data, investors can track not only the demand for GM’s products but also the growth of the company which directly correlates with the sales of its vehicles.

GM Market Share in the US, China and South America

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 U.S., China and South America are chosen for discussion here is that these regions contribute the biggest chunk of vehicle sales to GM. In addition, all three regions represent GM’s largest automotive markets in the world.

Based on the 4Q 2019 annual filing, vehicle sales from these 3 regions alone made up more than 85% of GM’s global retail sales.

The following snapshot shows GM’s retail vehicles sales data extracted from the 2019 annual filing:

GM total vehicle sales and market share Q4 2019

GM total vehicle sales and market share Q4 2019

For your information, the following series of charts presented keeps track of GM’s retail vehicle sales and market share based on the data extracted from the table above in which you can easily find in all GM’s financial statements.

Total Vehicle Sales and Revenue Recognition

Keep in mind that the total vehicle sales or retail sales data presented in the following charts do not translate to revenue recognized in GM’s income statement. GM recognizes revenue from only 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 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 the article here: General Motors Wholesale Vehicle Sales.

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

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.

GM’s Vehicle Sales and Market Share in the United States

GM vehicle sales and market share in the U.S.

GM vehicle sales and market share in the U.S.

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

As seen from the chart, GM’s quarterly total vehicle sales in the U.S. has been mostly flat over the last 6 years. Accordingly, vehicle sales in the U.S. were roughly between 700k and 800k of vehicles on a quarterly basis.

However, GM’s retail sales in the U.S. started to plunged in 1Q 2020 when total vehicle sales plummeted below 700k to only 618,000 units. The decline continued into 2020 Q2 when GM reported only 492k vehicle sales in the U.S.

Year over year, the 2Q 2020 result represents a decline of more than 30%. The drop in demand was largely driven by the disruption initiated by the COVID-19 outbreak.

In terms of market share in the U.S., GM’s numbers have slightly declined to 16.3% in 2Q 2020 compared to the 17.3% market share in the prior quarter. Year over year, GM’s market share in the U.S. remained unchanged.

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 market lead all these years.

Despite having been impacted by the COVID-19 outbreak, GM managed to retain its retail sales market share in the U.S. in 2020.

GM’s Vehicle Sales YoY Growth in the United States

GM vehicle sales YoY growth in the U.S.

GM vehicle sales YoY growth 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.

Based on the data in the chart, the average YoY growth rate from 2015 to 2020 is -2% in the last 6 years. In other words, GM’s total vehicle sales in the U.S. have slightly declined on average for the past 6 years.

The decline was the most severe in 2020 Q2 when vehicle YoY sales in the U.S. dropped 34%. Thanks to the damage brought by the COVID-19 pandemic.

GM’s Vehicle Sales and Market Share in China

GM vehicle sales and market share in China

GM vehicle sales and market share 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, the vehicle sales data 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.

Here is a quote from GM’s financial statement 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, vehicle sales in China are essentially heading for a severe decline especially between 2019 and 2020, as reflected 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%.

The long-term trend of the plot indicates that GM’s vehicle sales in China are trending downward, starting in 2018.

Similarly, GM’s market share in China has deteriorated severely since 2018 and plunged to the lowest at only 11.4% as of 2Q 2020, despite experiencing strong demand in the same quarter.

At only 11% market share, the figure represents one of the worst quarters ever reported for GM’s market share in China since 2014.

GM’s Vehicle Sales YoY Growth in China

GM vehicle sales YoY growth in China

GM vehicle sales YoY growth in China

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

The average year over year growth rate for vehicle sales in China was -4% 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 persistent double-digits YoY decline in vehicle sales throughout 2018 and 2019. The decline continued into 2020 when GM reported YoY vehicle sales of -43% and -5% in 1Q20 and 2Q20, respectively.

This is a worrying trend if the decreasing pattern persists for the rest of 2020 and possibly 2021. The continuous decline in both vehicle sales and market share shows that GM might be losing out to competitors in China.

GM’s Total Vehicle Sales and Market Share in South America

GM vehicle sales and market share in South America

GM vehicle sales and market share in South America

South America represents GM’s third-largest market after the U.S. and China. Brazil contributes the largest sales in the South America market, at over 70% of total sales in the region in 2019 based on the 2019 annual filing.

GM reported an average sales figure of -7.3% in South America for the past 6 years which is worst than the average number of U.S. and China.

According to the chart, the best sales were recorded in 2014 at more than 200k vehicles per quarter. However, vehicle sales have since declined and plunged to the lowest at only 57,000 units in 2Q 2020.

The 2020 Q2 result represents a year over year decline of 65%, one of the worst quarterly results ever reported since 2014.

Again, the severe drop in vehicle demand in South America has largely been attributed to the coronavirus pandemic which has been getting more serious by the day.

Despite suffering the worst vehicle sale in 2020, GM managed to maintain its market share at 14.6% in 2020 2Q. The figure declined slightly year over year compared to the 15.1% market share reported a year ago.

While GM sold much fewer vehicles in 2Q 2020 compared to the same quarter a year earlier, the market share between those quarters has been relatively stable, indicating that GM managed to maintain its market share in the South American market.

GM’s Total Vehicle Sales YoY Growth in South America

GM vehicle sales YoY growth in South America

GM vehicle sales YoY growth in South America

As mentioned, GM suffered the worst decline in vehicle sales in South America in 2Q 2020 at -65% year over year.

In 2Q 2020, GM sold only 57K units of vehicles, which was less than half of what it sold in the prior quarter and was the worst ever reported by the company.

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.

The worst decline in retail sales occurred in South America at -65% year over year in 2Q 2020.

However, China reported the most improvement in vehicle sales in 2020 2Q when vehicle sales more than doubled quarter over quarter.

The improvement in vehicle demand in China may point to a recovering automobile market.

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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