At least three General Motors divisions should post retail sales gains for 2007, forecast Troy Clarke, head of the automaker’s core North American operations. In an interview with TheCarConnection.com, the GMNA president said he expected sizable improvements for Buick, Chevrolet and Saturn because “Those are all brands where we have key product launches” during the coming year, including such entries as the new Buick Enclave, the updated Chevrolet Malibu, and Saturn’s next-generation Vue crossover. Clarke said he is hoping that retail sales for GM’s other U.S. brands will be, at the very least, flat for the year, though there are opportunities for gains elsewhere, including Cadillac, which is readying a revised version of its CTS sedan.
The GM executive stressed that the company is putting emphasis on the retail side of the sales equation in 2007, accepting it will likely lose some share as it trims back on fleet markets, particularly to the low-margin daily rental companies. It has also been trying to maintain more discipline on incentives, steering clear of quick-fix campaigns, such as the employee pricing programs of 2005. Those fire-sale programs temporarily boosted volume but ultimately led to severe “payback” periods, while hurting brand image and slashing residual values. This “more robust” approach, suggested
During the recent Detroit auto show, several senior GM executives indicated they’ll be pushing to cut costs still more during 2007, even after achieving a $9 billion reduction in fixed costs. But there appears to be no immediate need to eliminate more plants or trim the North American workforce – with the exception of productivity gains fueled by natural attrition. There’ll be “no letting up” on cost, said Clarke, but in 2007, the big emphasis will be on “going after the revenue side of the equation.”
With previews of hot new products like the
One of the
Clarke discounted skeptics who have questioned whether the Volt is just a publicity stunt. “There’s tremendous demand for cars in the world,” he noted, pointing to booming sales in markets such as
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