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GM’s first quarter sales up 3.9% on strong consumer demand

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A customer looks at a General Motors Co. Chevrolet vehicle for sale at a car dealership in Colma, Calif. On Monday, February 8, 2021.

David Paul Morris | Bloomberg | Getty Images

DETROIT – General Motors vehicle sales were supported by strong consumer demand in the first quarter as fleet sales slumped and a continuing shortage of semiconductor chips closed some assembly plants .

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The Detroit automaker said Thursday it sold 642,250 vehicles in the first three months of the year, up 3.9% from a year earlier, when Covid-19 began to force dealerships and auto factories to close in March.

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GM is one of the first major automakers to report first quarter sales on Thursday. Analysts expect sales in the industry to be up around 8% or 9% from the first quarter of 2020.

GM said retail sales to individual consumers rose 19% in the first quarter, while fleet sales to businesses and governments fell 35% from the previous year. The automaker expects consumer demand to remain resilient throughout this year.

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“Consumer confidence and spending will continue to rise as a result of the stimulus, rising vaccination rates and the gradual reopening of the economy,” GM chief economist Elaine Buckberg said in a statement. . “Automotive demand is expected to remain strong throughout the year.”

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The GM brands Buick, Cadillac and GMC saw double-digit sales increases in the first quarter, while Chevrolet – its biggest brand – fell 1.7%. Chevrolet’s decline was attributable to a 12.5% ​​drop in sales of its full-size Silverado pickups.

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