General Motors, which reported a 46% jump in February U.S. sales on March 1, attributed its strong gains to its popular lineup of new vehicles which helped retail sales swell 70% in their largest year-over-year gain in the company's history.
"Our plan was to get off to a quick start this year, and we did just that," Don Johnson, GM's vice president of U.S. sales operations. "Having the right vehicles in inventory, combined with aggressive advertising and targeted consumer marketing has been the key to our success in the first two months this year."
Total sales rose 207,028 vehicles in February, of which 43,900, or 21% were lower-margin fleet sales.
GM said the retail gains were shared across its offerings, with car sales up 76%, truck sales up 74% and crossovers up 59%.
The largest U.S. automaker forecast that overall industry sales would rise about 24% in February to a seasonally adjusted annualized rate of around 13 million vehicles. "We continue to believe we're going to see slow but steady growth for the year," Johnson said, adding that GM has maintained its forecast for 2011 vehicle sales of around 13 to 13.5 million.
The recent spike in oil prices in the wake of unrest in the Middle East has not yet had an impact on sales, Johnson said. However he cautioned that gas prices and the resulting inflation could impact overall demand for vehicles as well as shift consumer demand towards more fuel efficient vehicles.
"It depends on how dramatic a spike and how long it goes for," Johnson said, adding that GM is "very well positioned for the current level of gas prices and any risk of them going up."
Copyright Agence France-Presse, 2011