It’s no secret vehicles sales seem to be reaching a peak after years of record sales in the United States. Through this, though, General Motors’ market share has ultimately declined, but disciplined business practices have led to profit and growth for the automaker.
Over the past few years, GM has been careful to curb incentives on vehicles and slow fleet deliveries to focus on retail customers more than ever, and GM CEO Mary Barra says those disciplines will remain through a forecasted slowing market.
Barra told Automotive News the company she oversees must stay disciplined through a plateau of vehicle sales, while remaining flexible to respond to consumer shifts in the market.
We have to [stay disciplined]. There’s a shift going on from cars to SUVs, so we’re going to be responsive to that. We do believe that we’re at a plateau. So to be able to stay at a 17 million, or above — anywhere where the first two digits are 17 is a good market — we want to continue to seize that. We think the product portfolio that we have coming out next year positions us very well to continue to do that. But we also recognize that we’re a cyclical business, and we will maintain that discipline as we work through the cycle.
She moved on to discuss the shift from cars to trucks and crossovers and stated GM is always evaluating vehicles that don’t make sense within the automaker’s portfolio any longer.
We need to look at what’s important to customers. The midsize segment is still a 2 million-unit market. So even though we’re seeing the shift, it’s still important. We don’t look at — I’ll call it a momentum portfolio — but we look at what is the portfolio customers are going to want in two, three, four, five years and beyond. We make sure we’re looking over the horizon to have the portfolio for the future, not just, “We’ve always had this so we always will.” We have efficiencies in our core architectures that give us flexibility to react and be able to not have huge expenditures. We can build on what we already have to fulfill the market demands of the future.
The Chevrolet Impala comes to mind, which most recently saw its sales slip 48 percent last month alone. However, GM has made no official indication the Impala or other large cars will be on the chopping block.
Looking into the future, Barra wants to position GM has an absolute leader in electric vehicles and mobility through these disciplined business practices.
“I look at our size, our strength, our technological capability, and I feel there’s no reason why General Motors shouldn’t be on the leading edge of defining the future of personal mobility. That’s why you see us take very active steps.”