GM Sales Fall 13% in 2021, Citing Supply-Chain Issues

DETROIT — General Motors Co. and its dealers delivered 2.2 million vehicles in 2021, a 13% drop in sales compared to the previous year, the company reported Tuesday. 

Meanwhile, Japanese automaker Toyota reported annual sales of 2.3 million cars and trucks, making it the first year that a foreign automaker has outsold American producers in the United States. Ford Motor Co. will release its sales figures Wednesday, which are expected to be third highest in the U.S. market behind Toyota and GM. 

GM said its year-over-year decline was attributed to semiconductor supply-chain issues that affected the entire auto industry throughout last year. 

“All year we focused on delivering as many of our high demand, capacity-constrained products as possible and the strategy worked,” Steve Carlisle, GM executive vice president and president, GM North America, said in a statement. “Our dealers and our engineering, supply chain, manufacturing and brand teams moved mountains to satisfy as many customers as possible in 2021, despite record low inventories caused by semiconductor supply chain issues during the third and fourth quarters.”

Carlisle said that a healthy economy and projected improvements in the semiconductor supply chain bode well for a strong 2022.

“In 2022, we plan to take advantage of the strong economy and anticipated improved semiconductor supplies to grow our sales and share,” he said.  “We will also further strengthen our industry leadership in trucks and begin our drive to EV leadership in North America with the rollouts of the GMC Hummer EV, Cadillac Lyriq and the reveals of the Chevrolet Silverado EV and GMC Sierra EV.”

Chevrolet and GMC cemented the company’s eighth consecutive year of combined full-size and midsize pickup sales leadership, second consecutive year as the full-size pickup sales leader and its 21st consecutive year as the market leader in full-size SUVs.

Cadillac Escalade deliveries rose 65% versus 2020 and a bevy of new and redesigned models helped drive Buick sales to the highest level since 2019. GM’s commercial truck business registered gains in key areas, including Chevrolet Silverado Medium Duty sales, which were up 39%. Chevrolet and GMC will stay on offense in the full-size pickup market in 2022 with new designs, the rollout of Super Cruise and more capacity, highlighted by the following:

  • GM Canada re-opened its Oshawa Assembly plant and began building Chevrolet Silverado HD pickups in the fourth quarter of 2021.
  • Mid-year will see the arrival of the new 2022 Chevrolet Silverado LD and GMC Sierra LD. The redesigned pickups will feature new interiors, will generate lower greenhouse gas emissions, add new off-road and luxury packages, and include the addition of Super Cruise as an option for the first time.
  • Both brands are preparing all-electric pickups, including the Chevrolet Silverado EV, which will be revealed virtually on Jan. 5, during the Consumer Electronics Show.

GM expects economic growth in the U.S. and improving semiconductor availability to help drive U.S. total light industry sales from around 15 million in 2021 to around 16 million in 2022.

“The key constraint for sales continues to be reduced inventory levels as a result of the semiconductor shortage. Those inventory levels are beginning to recover against a backdrop of strong fundamental demand conditions, with ample job openings, high household savings and low interest rates,” said Elaine Buckberg, GM chief economist. 

GM and its dealers sold 440,745 vehicles in the fourth quarter, down 43% compared with the fourth quarter of 2020, which was GM’s best quarter for retail sales since 2007.

GM entered the quarter with record low inventories; however, the company’s fourth-quarter production and wholesale deliveries were up significantly from the third quarter as semiconductor supply conditions improved. Dealer inventory, including in-transit units on their way to dealers, was 128,757 units at the end of the third quarter and 199,662 at the end of the fourth quarter.

Despite low inventories, several vehicle lines posted total sales increases including the Chevrolet Tahoe, up 8%, Chevrolet Suburban, up 3%, Buick Envision, up 10%, percent, Cadillac Escalade, up 2%, and the Chevrolet Silverado MD, 5%, the company said.

Published by The Business Journal, Youngstown, Ohio.