It's been a tough slog for General Motors of late. They're beginning to run out of cars to recall; they make cars their dealers aren't even permitted to sell. Their dealers can no longer get their hands on the oh-so-desirable Pontiac G3. And while their Auburn Hills rivals now have a deep-seated connection with Ferrari, GM has... Daewoo?
Let's not put the cart before the horse. GM remains a global automotive force. In the United States alone, GM's four brands sell more than 230,000 new vehicles every month, more than any other automobile manufacturer.
But our memories aren't short, and we clearly remember the days when GM's American volume – while not 1960s-like – was significantly higher. In 2002, GM sold an average of 402,000 new vehicles per month.
Say what you will about the means by which GM generated (disappointing) profits with some of those cars, more than one out of every five new vehicles you saw on U.S. roads in 2005 was a GM product. That figure has fallen well below one-in-four.
Of course, GM was a different company then, with more brands and more stores and less bankruptcy. In the accompanying chart (which you can operate through the dropdown menu in the top left, at least for those who are using conventional desktop devices), we've separated these old GM brands into their own section to show their decreased relevance from a market share perspective.
The Pontiac G6 was America's tenth-best-selling car in 2007. Pontiac isn't even a thing in 2014.
But the point of the chart isn't to fondly recall (oops, there's that word again) the Oldsmobile Bravada, but rather to show the gradually shrinking GM portion and the gradually increasing portion of all its competitors, from 74%, to 75%, to 76%, to 82% of the market.
General Motors owned 17.6% of the U.S. auto market over the last five months, down from 18% during the same period one year earlier. GM has reported a 2.8% year-over-year increase in U.S. sales in 2014, but that improvement does not compare favourably with the 5% growth in the market as a whole.
Americans have registered nearly 320,000 more new vehicles in 2014 than they had at this point in 2013, but GM's sales increase equals fewer than 33,000 extra units. FCA volume, on the other hand (Chrysler, Dodge, Fiat, Jeep, Ram) is up by 97,391 units with Ram's pickup adding 30,036 sales on its own. The Nissan brand has seen sales increase by more than 66,000 units, and little ol' Subaru has added nearly as many sales (31,279) as all of General Motors.
Recall woes may not have severely impacted U.S. sales. Yet. GM reported a 13% increase in May sales as the market grew by 11%. But this downward-sliding trend was not ignited by ignition problems in the Saturn Ion, nor is the trend a new one.