A customer looks at a General Motors Co. Chevrolet vehicle on sale at a Colma, Calif. Car dealership on Monday, February 8, 2021.
David Paul Morris | Bloomberg | Getty Images
DETROIT – General Motors’ vehicle sales were driven by strong consumer demand in the first quarter as fleet sales cratered and a persistent shortage of semiconductor chips shut down some assembly plants.
The Detroit-based automaker announced Thursday that it had sold 642,250 vehicles in the first three months of the year, up 3.9% year over year when Covid-19 began forcing dealerships and auto plants to close in March .
GM is among the first major automakers to report first-quarter sales on Thursday. Analysts expect sales across the industry to grow 8% or 9% compared to the first quarter of 2020.
According to GM, retail sales to individual consumers rose 19% in the first quarter, while fleet sales to corporate and government customers declined 35% year over year. The automaker expects consumer demand to remain stable this year.
“Consumer confidence and spending will continue to rise due to incentives, rising vaccination rates and the continuing reopening of the economy,” said GM chief economist Elaine Buckberg in a press release. “Demand for automobiles should remain strong all year round.”
GM’s Buick, Cadillac, and GMC brands saw double-digit sales increases in the first quarter, while Chevrolet – the largest brand – fell 1.7%. Chevrolet’s decline was due to a 12.5% decline in sales of Silverado vans.