General Motors sales in May showed practically no signs of drag due to any concerns by car buyers about the company’s massive recall campaigns and attendant bad publicity about its cars, their safety, the company’s engineers, its executives and its culture.
May sales for Chevrolet, Cadillac, Buick and GMC ratcheted up by 13 percent over a year ago, marking the company’s best May in seven years and its best monthly sales since August 2008. That’s a remarkable achievement for a company that has endured a three-month run of awful publicity that has few equals in the annals of corporate reputation-wrecking except maybe Johnson & Johnson’s Tylenol era.
There were plenty of reasons GM’s continued strong sales performance in May wasn’t a surprise, as outlined recently by this contributor. They include the company’s strong vehicle lineup, an increased flow of consumers into GM dealerships as they attend to the recall prompts for their existing vehicles, and the likelihood that many buyers weighed all the factors inherent in the recall mess and concluded that now is actually a good time to buy a GM-made vehicle rather than to shy away from one.
Recall drama was still a part of last month’s sales picture for GM. For example, late in the month, the company issued a “stop order” on some of its 2014-model SUVs that had just been recalled under the company’s efforts to accelerate all potential safety concerns — because not all dealers had the parts necessary to make the required repairs before they could release the new models to customers who had purchased them.
But smartly and understandably, GM officially skidded right past “the recall thing” in its press release evaluating May. “The momentum we generated in April carried into May, with all four brands performing well in a growing economy and 17 vehicle lines posting double-digit retail sales increases or better,” said Kurt McNeil, U.S. vice president of sales operations.
Indeed, GM nameplates and brands performed pretty well across the board, ranging from a 4-percent May increase for Cadillac to 15 percent for the hot GMC brand. And some of its newest and priciest vehicles fared best year-to-year, with a 267-percent increase for the new Corvette, 143 percent for the new GMC Yukon and 61 percent for the Cadillac Escalade.t