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Updates plus hatch to come should give Cruze shot in arm
<p><strong>Updates, plus hatch to come, should give Cruze shot in arm.</strong></p>

Chevy Pulls Down GM Volume in July, But Retail Share Rising

GM estimates its retail market share rose a full point in July to 17.9%, its highest level since December 2011.

Every General Motors brand but one posted an increase in U.S. light-vehicle sales in July, but the drag from high-volume Chevrolet’s performance left the automaker with an overall 1.9% decline for the month.

Light-vehicle sales totaled 267,258 in the month, compared with 272,512 year-ago, with both periods having 26 selling days.

Still, the automaker finds a silver lining in the July performance, notching a solid 5% gain in retail sales, which totaled 236,235 vehicles. That marked the best July retail performance since 2007 and is another strong indicator GM’s strategy of emphasizing its more profitable retail business – rather than the rental-fleet sector – is working.

GM estimates its retail market share rose a full point in July to 17.9%, its highest level since December 2011. The automaker says it has gained retail share 14 of the past 15 months.

“Our retail-focused plan is working and as availability of our new cars, trucks and crossovers continues to grow, we expect to keep our retail sales momentum going and our strong margins intact,” Kurt McNeil, U.S. vice president-Sales Operations, says in a statement.

A big part of the blame for Chevrolet’s 5.3% volume falloff vs. year-ago can be placed on the Cruze small car, which slumped 35.7% in the month. But the all-new model is just filling the pipeline at Chevy dealers and a new hatchback version of the car is on the way this fall to further bolster the lineup.

In a meeting with reporters last week, GM North America President Alan Batey said the Cruze is doing its job, noting 43% of buyers are new to the Chevrolet brand. Residual values on the car have risen 9.7 points, he said, and average transaction prices are up $2,000 on year-ago.

Chevrolet performed far better on the truck side, with overall deliveries up 4.6%, despite slack results from the fullsize Silverado line, down 4.0%. In addition to strong Colorado demand (up 27.5%), Chevy recorded solid results from the Trax small CUV (54.9%), fullsize Suburban (17.3%) and Traverse midsize CUV (20.4%). Equinox (1.3%) posted its best July on record.

GM’s top performer was its Buick brand, up 10.4% largely on the strength of its truck models. GMC posted a 4.8% gain, in this case getting a boost from its Sierra fullsize pickup (13.2%), as well as smaller Canyon pickup (33.1%) and lineup of fullsize SUVs.

Cadillac also landed in positive territory, up 1.3% on a 33.4% gain for the ATS entry sedan and 4,951 units from the still-ramping-up XT5 CUV, which remains in short supply, with inventory turning over in 25 days. GM says Cadillac has the highest ATPs in the luxury segment at $53,891.

The automaker ended July with 66 days’ inventory, down from 72 days at the end of June. Fleets accounted for 11.6% of July’s volume. GM’s daily rental sales are down 38% through July.

[email protected] @DavidZoia

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