GM 1Q global sales fall 2.5%

Melissa Burden
The Detroit News

General Motors Co.’s global first-quarter sales fell 2.5 percent to 2.36 million vehicles from a year ago, as the automaker faced challenging markets in South America and Asia.

The automaker Tuesday said the mini-commercial segment in China — GM’s largest sales market — also hurt sales during the quarter. GM and its joint ventures in China sold 963,652 vehicles in the first three months this year, up 0.2 percent compared to the same months in 2015.

The company’s first-quarter sales in South America fell 25.8 percent and sales in its International Operations region slipped 21.8 percent from the same period a year ago.

Sales in North America rose 1.2 percent to just shy of 799,000 vehicles; sales in the U.S. for the first three months of 2016 were flat compared to 2015 as the company has pulled back on less profitable sales to rental customers. GM’s sales in Europe of 310,535 were up 6.4 percent year-over-year.

“The quality of GM’s global sales in the key segments and markets in the first quarter is in line with our efforts to drive sustained profitable growth,” GM President Dan Ammann said in a statement. “In China, we continued to grow SUV sales and Cadillac expanded in the luxury segment. In the U.S., our disciplined approach to increased retail sales and lower rental fleet resulted in more profitable transactions.”

The automaker’s Chevrolet brand — its largest — saw first-quarter sales fall by more than 140,000 or 13.1 percent. Sales for the Buick brand rose 19.1 percent, while GMC sales rose 1.6 percent and Cadillac sales increased 0.3 percent. Opel/Vauxhall brand sales in Europe jumped more than 8 percent. GM said those brands sales were ahead of industry growth of 5 percent in Europe.

GM is slated to release first quarter-earnings Thursday.

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