In the second quarter of 2011, Chevrolet sold more cars than they did trucks, SUVs and crossovers, and that hasn’t happened since the summer of 1991. In April, May and June, cars accounted for an estimated 47 percent of Chevrolet’s sales; even more telling is that car sales are expected to be up by 23 percent in the first half of 2011. Truck sales are also up compared to last year, but have only risen by 9 percent (or 12 percent for all of GM) compared to the first half of 2010.
Gasoline prices are clearly a factor, since four-cylinder engines are driving much of the company’s growth. In the first half of 2011, some 46 percent of buyers opted for a four-cylinder engine over other choices, double the rate of sales just five years ago. Chevy has increased their four cylinder offerings across multiple segments, and buyers can opt for a fuel-efficient four-cylinder in compact cars, midsize sedans or even midsize crossovers.
Chevy is quick to point out that their Equinox, which comes with a 2.4–liter Ecotec engine, gets better highway fuel economy than a Ford Escape Hybrid. Wisely, they don't compare city fuel economy between the two vehicles, but in the interest of impartial journalism, the Equinox is rated at 22 mpg city and 32 mpg highway, while the Escape Hybrid gets 34 mpg city and 31 mpg highway.
Chevy’s Cruze became the best selling compact model in the U.S. in May, and sales have been good enough to increase Chevy’s share of the compact market from 9.5 percent in 2010 to 11.6 percent in 2011. Even a two percent gain doesn’t tell the whole story, as the entire segment has grown by 19 percent (or 24 percent GM-wide) since last year.
Alan Batey, vice president of sales and service for Chevrolet, is even more optimistic about the future, saying, “Chevrolet has always been known for building great trucks. Today, we are in the middle of transforming the brand with a strong lineup of cars that match the appeal of our trucks and crossovers. That transformation is clearly bringing new customers to the brand – as passenger cars and four-cylinder engines are driving Chevrolet’s growth this year. We expect that momentum to accelerate as Chevrolet introduces three new cars over the next two years – the Sonic, Spark, and next-generation Malibu.”