General Motors Co. (NYSE:GM), North America’s largest automaker, reported a 7 percent rise in total sales in February, to 224,314 units, compared to the same month last year.
Retail sales, which exclude fleet purchases like government vehicles and rental agency orders, were up in all of the group’s categories by double digits in the first two months of the year. The largest brand, Chevrolet, saw retail sales rise 10.1 percent, while total GM retail sales for January and February were up 14.2 percent compared to the same period last year.
The company also estimated that February's seasonally adjusted annualized rate for total U.S. passenger car and light truck sales will be 15.5 million vehicles, an upward revision from last month’s 15.3 million.
In total, the Detroit Three automakers, including Ford Motor Company (NYSE:F) and Chrysler LLC, a subsidiary of Italian company Fiat SpA (Milan:F), said Friday they sold 559,151 vehicles in the U.S. last month.
“The housing sector has now joined auto sales in propelling the U.S. economy forward,” Kurt McNeil, GM’s vice president of U.S. sales, said. “More importantly, the recovery in new home construction is reinforcing the underlying improvement in auto buying conditions, especially for pickups.”
America is a pickup-driving country, and GM is second to Ford in market share for that popular vehicle type. Pickup truck sales in particular often coincide with growth in the housing sector as contractors see more business and feel more confident in replacing their old work horses. Enticing financing has made that decision easier to make.
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Last month, GM saw sales of full-size pickup total truck sales rise 28 percent to 58,039 units.
Winners included the Chevrolet Equinox mid-size crossover, which saw a 15.7 percent rise in unit sales last month; the Chevrolet Silverado pickup truck, whose sales rose 28.9 percent; and the GMC Sierra, with a 25 percent spike.
In the losers category: the four door compact Chevrolet Cruze (down 12.1 percent), the Malibu mid-size sedan (down 25.9 percent) and the Camaro muscle car (down 10.9 percent).