GM March US sales boosted by gas-sipping models

Mon Apr 2, 2012 6:34pm EDT
 
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By Bernie Woodall

DETROIT (Reuters) - General Motors Co (GM.N: Quote) passed an environmental milestone of sorts in March, when it became the first U.S. automaker to sell, in a single month, more than 100,000 cars that can achieve 30 miles per gallon in highway driving, the automaker said on Monday.

About 40 percent of GM's March sales were of these fuel-efficient cars, said Mark Reuss, GM president for North America.

Other major carmakers including Ford Motor Co (F.N: Quote) and Hyundai Motor Co (005380.KS: Quote) have also dramatically increased their sales of fuel-efficient cars in the wake of soaring gasoline prices.

Analysts say that GM has come a long way since President Barack Obama was quoted as saying about American automakers in November 2008 - in a 2010 book by Steven Rattner, former head of Obama's auto task force - "Why can't they make a Corolla?"

"GM has made a complete turnaround where fuel-efficiency is now a priority compared to just a few years ago," said Jesse Toprak, an analyst at TrueCar.com. "As consumers have started to request more fuel-efficient cars, manufacturers have done a really good job to meet their demands."

GM's Reuss said that in recent years, the automaker has invested in four-cylinder and turbocharged engines, more fuel-efficient transmissions and hybrid and plug-in electric cars.

"Three years ago, about 16 percent of the vehicles GM sold achieved at least 30 mpg on the highway," Reuss said in a statement on Monday. "Today, that number is 40 percent."

Auto consultant and analyst TrueCar.com compiled its own estimates of automakers' U.S. sales and the percentage derived from models that attain at least 30 mpg in either highway or city driving.   Continued...

 
A General Motors logo is seen on a vehicle for sale at the GM dealership in Carlsbad, California January 4, 2012. REUTERS/Mike Blake