GM posts 4.8% rise in sales; sees demand picking up in spring

(Reuters) – General Motors on Tuesday reported a 4.8% rise in U.S. sales for the fourth quarter, boosted by demand for new vehicles during the COVID-19 pandemic, and the automaker signaled that the industry could return to more normal levels in the spring.

FILE PHOTO: The GM logo is seen in Warren, Michigan, U.S. on October 26, 2015. REUTERS/Rebecca Cook/File Photo

The company said its sales rose to 771,323 units from 735,909 units a year ago, adding that it gained market share across its segments in the fourth quarter and the calendar year. Average transaction price set a full-year record of $39,229.

“We look forward to an inflection point for the U.S. economy in spring,” GM Chief Economist Elaine Buckberg said in a statement.

“Widening vaccination rates and warmer weather should enable consumers and businesses to return to a more normal range of activities, lifting the job market, consumer sentiment and auto demand,” Buckberg added.

GM’s shares rose 1.6% after reporting the sales data.

Low interest rates have also helped consumers afford more expensive vehicles. Auto dealer AutoNation Inc’s in October reported a quarterly profit that nearly doubled, just months after the pandemic slammed the economy.

Toyota Motor Corp on Tuesday posted a 20.4% rise in U.S. auto sales for December. The Japanese automaker said its sales rose to 249,601 vehicles from 207,373 a year ago.

Consumers in the financial position to buy a new car during the coronavirus pandemic aren’t holding back on upsizing their purchases in favor of bigger vehicles with more amenities, according to industry consultant Edmunds.

The average down payment for a new vehicle climbed to $4,734 in the fourth quarter, from $4,329 a year ago, Edmunds said in a report.

Global light vehicle sales are expected to be 86 million units this year, an 11% rise from 2020, according to industry consultants J.D. Power and LMC Automotive. (

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