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Pandemic weighs on GM and FCA quarterly sales

(New York) Unsurprisingly, new car sales by US manufacturers fell in the third quarter, hit by the coronavirus pandemic that paralyzed the US economy and locked households up to their homes.

Posted Oct 1, 2020 at 1:11 PM

Agence France-Presse

General Motors (GM), the country's largest manufacturer, has sold 665,192 vehicles in the past three months, 10% less than the same period in 2019, according to a statement released Thursday.

Its competitor FCA US registered a comparable sales decrease, with a total of 507,351 new registrations.

While noting that sales fell dramatically in July, both automakers say they saw a rebound in August and September as states slowly reopened their economies.

As a result, they forecast an industry-wide increase of 4 million more cars sold in the third quarter compared to the second quarter, most affected by measures to stem the spread of COVID-19.

"While the economy recovered significantly in the third quarter, the recovery is even more dramatic for car sales," Elaine Buckberg, GM's chief economist, said in the statement.

Demand has been boosted in recent weeks by low interest rates and dealers' ability to convince households to defer vacation budgets to buying a new car, despite economic uncertainties.

Some dealers have organized private sales and many of them have targeted city dwellers who are reluctant to use public transportation.

"People living in cities have shown great interest in eventually owning a car, not only because some are moving to the suburbs, but also because others now take regular weekend trips." GM explains.

This move has mainly fueled demand for SUVs and full-size pickups: sales of the Chevrolet Blazer and Cadillac XT6 models are up more than 46% in the past three months, GM said.

Car sales "are holding up given inventory levels much lower than a year ago," said Charlie Chesbrough, an expert at Cox.

"Can this continue? Obviously startups have not yet been hit hard by the recession […] so demand is likely to stabilize in the short term," he concludes.

Ford and Tesla, the other two big American car manufacturers had not yet to announce sales figures on Thursday afternoon.

Written by Rahis

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