General Motors (NYSE:GM) is one of the leading automobile companies not only in the United States but also globally, especially in China where the company plays an important role in the development of the automotive industry.
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 directly 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 is that these regions contribute the biggest chunk of vehicle sales to GM. In addition, all three regions represent GM’s biggest automotive markets in the world.
Based on the 4Q 2019 annual filing, vehicles sales from these 3 regions alone made up more than 85% of GM’s global retail vehicle sales.
Here is a snapshot of the total vehicles sales data from the 4Q19 annual filing:
For your information, the following series of charts presented in this article keeps track of GM’s retail vehicle sales and market share based on data extracted from the table above in which you can easily find in all GM’s financial statements.
Total Vehicle Sales and Revenue Recognition
Before going further, I would like to stress that the total vehicle sales or retail vehicle 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 total vehicle sales data:
Investors who are interested in GM’s wholesale vehicle sales data that correlates 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 Europe vehicle sales and market share
In addition, you may notice that GM Europe vehicle sales and market share data is not presented in this post. 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 has ceased to exist since 2017.
GM’s Total Vehicle Sales and Market Share in the United States
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 6-year period. Accordingly, vehicle sales has been relatively consistent especially during 2018 and 2019 in which the figures have tightly fluctuated between 700k and 800k of vehicles delivered on a quarterly basis.
However, GM’s vehicle retail sales in the U.S. started to plunged in 1Q 2020 when total vehicle sales plummeted to record low at only 618,000 units. The 1Q 2020 quarterly vehicle sales represents a year-over-year decline of 7% or 16% if measured sequentially and was one of the worst reported quarter for GM over the past 6 years.
In terms of market share in the U.S., GM’s numbers have slightly declined in 2019 to 16% but have ticked up to 17% in 1Q 2020. Surprisingly, GM’s market share in the U.S. managed to climb 1% year over year to reach new high despite record low vehicle sales during 1Q 2020.
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.
GM’s Vehicle Sales YoY Growth Rate in the United States
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 was 0% over the 5-year period. In other words, there has been no growth in vehicle sales in the U.S. market since 2015 on average.
Moreover, YoY growth rate has got worst since 2018 and the downtrend continued all the way to 2020. Most figures during 2018 and 2019 were in the negative territory. The worst drop occurred in 3Q18 when growth rate dropped more than 10% compared to the quarter a year ago.
Also, 2019 was probably the worst year for GM when it posted 3 out of 4 quarters of negative YoY growth rates. The downtrend continues to 1Q 2020 when GM reported total vehicle sales YoY growth rate of -7% which represents a consecutive YoY decline.
GM’s Total Vehicle Sales and Market Share in China
China is the second most important markets 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.
Nevertheless, I have presented a chart above to show the quarterly total vehicle sales and market share data in China for the past 6 years from 2014 to 2020.
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 and these data represents GM’s retail vehicle sales.
Here is a quote from GM’s financial statement regarding vehicle sales in China:
Coming back to the chart, vehicle sales in China are essentially heading for a severe decline especially in 2019 and 2020 as seen from the lower low trend in the chart. In 1Q 2020, GM’s vehicle sales in China plummeted the most over the 5-year period to only 462,000 units, representing a YoY decline of more than 40%.
On a sequential basis, the 1Q 2020 quarter represents a quarterly decline of more than 50% and was one of the worst reported quarters since 2014.
The long-term trend indicates that GM’s vehicle sales in China has mostly been flat until 2019 when the sales numbers started to plunge continuously year over year and reached record low in 1Q 2020.
In terms of market share, GM vehicle sales in China had been consistently stable at around 15% between 2014 and 2015. But market share in the Chinese market started to deteriorate in recent years especially since 2018 when the numbers declined year over year to only 13% on average during 2018.
In 2019, GM’s market share in China continued to worsen and reached roughly 12% on average on a quarterly basis. As of 1Q 2020, the number deteriorated again to only 12% which represents a 1% decline compared to the same quarter a year earlier.
At 12% market share, the 1Q 2020 quarter represents one of the worst quarter ever for GM’s market share in China.
GM’s Vehicle Sales YoY Growth Rate in China
While GM’s vehicle sales in the United States has shown no growth over the past 6 years, the result was even worst for the Chinese market. The average year over year growth rate for vehicle sales in China was -4% which means year over year growth has actually declined between 2014 and 2020.
Also, you may notice that YoY vehicle sales in China dropped significantly in 2019 and continued to 2020 when all quarterly results recorded negative figures in those years. The worst growth rate was recorded in 1Q 2020 when vehicle sales plummeted by 43% year over year which is not surprising when vehicle sales declined by nearly 400,000 units in the respective quarter alone.
This is a worrying trend if the decreasing pattern persists for the rest of 2020 and possibly 2021. The continuous decline in both the 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
South America represents GM’s third largest market after 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 4Q 2019 annual filing.
From the plots above, both vehicle sales and market share in South America may be seeing light in the tunnel in recent years. While average sales figure has been -4.5% for the 6-year period which is worst than the average number of U.S. and China, GM quarterly sales and market share in South America has slowly improved in recent years from its worst drop which occurred in 2015.
As mentioned, best sales were recorded in 2014 at more than 200k vehicles per quarter. However, vehicle sales dropped significantly in 2015 to an average figure of only 150k vehicles per quarter. The trend slowly improved since 2015 and an average 160k of vehicles sales were recorded in 2019.
While year over year vehicle sales decline still occurred in 1Q 2020, the result was not as bad as that in China. In South America, GM’s vehicle sales reported in the 1Q 2020 quarter was 132,000 units which represents a YoY decline of 15% and was far lower than the figure reported in China.
Similar trend occurs in the market share plot in which a steady improvement of GM’s market share in South America is seen. According to the chart, the average market share in South America in 2019 was slightly more than 15% and this figure was only 1% point lower than the market share data observed in 2014, illustrating the steady improvement of GM’s market share in South America.
While GM sold much less vehicles in 1Q 2020 compared to the same quarter a year earlier, the market share between those quarters has been relatively stable, indicating that GM managed to hold its market share in its 3rd largest market.
GM’s Total Vehicle Sales YoY Growth Rate in South America
The chart above shows GM South America vehicle sales YoY growth rate for the past 5 years from 2015 to 2020.
From a spreadsheet calculation, the average year over year growth rate for the South America market has been -4.5%, which is far worst than the average figures in the US and China. The reason was largely attributed to the huge year over year declined observed in 2015 when more than 30% YoY declined occurred consecutively in 2 quarters.
Nevertheless, total vehicle sales started to recover since 2016, as seen from the positive yoy growth rate by the end of 2016 and throughout 2017. Growth rate consistently improved towards the end of 2019, albeit rather slowly.
However, GM’s total vehicle sales declined the most in 1Q 2020 since 2016 and posted a YoY growth rate of as much as -15%. While the 15% decline may seem a lot, it’s actually twice less than the figure reported in China.
To recap, the total vehicle sales data presented in this article does not correlate with the revenue recognized in GM’s income statements. For vehicle sales data that correlates with GM’s revenue, investors need to look at the wholesale vehicle deliveries which is presented in the article specified at the top of this post.
GM’s total vehicle sales declined the most in China compared to other markets such as the US and South America between 2014 and 2020. In 1Q 2019, GM posted the worst year over year sales decline in China at -43% whereas other regions such as the U.S. and South American recorded a year over year vehicle sales decline of -7% and -15% respectively which was far less worst than that of China in the same quarter.
While total vehicle sales in China plunged the most among all regions, the Chinese market still represents GM’s largest automobile market at more than 3 million vehicle sold by the end of 2019. On the other hand, GM’s total vehicle sales in the United States in 2019 totaled 2.9 million units which was only slightly behind that of China. The third largest market for GM’s automobile products in 2019 was South America in which 669,000 vehicles were sold.
Similarly, GM’s market share in China as of Q1 2020 reached the lowest at only 12%, representing as much as a 20% decline 5 years ago from a market share of roughly 15% in 2014. On the other hand, GM’s market share in the US and South America was still holding ground as of Q1 2020 at 17% and 15% respectively even though these results were slightly lower compare to the results in 2014.
1. Financial figures and data in all charts in this article were obtained and referenced from 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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