General Motors Reports Solid Fourth Quarter Sales

On Wednesday, General Motors (GM) released its fourth-quarter sales report, showing a flat year-over-year performance with just over 625,000 units sold. However, the company saw a 20% increase in battery-electric vehicle (BEV) sales, totaling 19,469 units.

GM's Strong Performance in 2023

GM's overall sales for the year reached just under 2.6 million units, representing a solid 14% increase compared to the previous year. The company's BEV sales were particularly impressive, totaling 75,585 units and experiencing a remarkable 90% year-over-year growth. Furthermore, GM has successfully sold over 100,000 BEVs in the past six quarters, showcasing the growth and popularity of its expanding range of electric models.

Tesla Leads the U.S. EV Market

Although GM's EV sales are booming, Tesla remains the industry leader in the United States. During the fourth quarter, Tesla achieved record-breaking sales of 485,000 units globally, with an estimated one-third of those sales occurring in the U.S. Unfortunately, Tesla does not disclose regional sales figures, and thus specific U.S. EV sales data is not yet available from industry sources.

Hyundai Makes Impressive Strides in the EV Market

Recent data from Hyundai Motor also highlights the brand's progress in the EV sector. In the fourth quarter of 2023, Hyundai shipped over 13,000 units of their popular IONIQ 5 and IONIQ 6 models in the U.S., marking a staggering 200% year-over-year increase. For the entire year, Hyundai shipped approximately 47,000 EV units—a notable 100% growth compared to 2022.

Strong Growth Predicted for U.S. BEV Sales

It is projected that U.S. BEV sales will exhibit a substantial 45% increase from 2022, with an estimated 1.1 million units sold in 2023. This surge in sales will result in BEVs accounting for approximately 8% of all new car sales, up from the 6% recorded in 2022. The growth could have been more significant if not for the overall recovery in the automotive industry, which saw Americans purchasing approximately 15.5 million light vehicles in 2023—up from around 14 million in 2022.

The Growing Demand for EVs

Despite a common belief that Americans are not interested in electric vehicles (EVs), recent data tells a different story. While the growth rate has slowed, BEV (Battery Electric Vehicle) sales still saw a significant increase of approximately 65% in 2022, indicating a sustained demand for EVs.

However, there are a couple of issues that need to be addressed. The inventories of EVs at traditional car manufacturers are currently too high. As of the end of the third quarter, U.S. car dealers had nearly 120 days worth of BEV inventory on their lots. In comparison, overall inventories ended the quarter at about 70 days. This overstocking of EVs can be attributed to many auto makers attempting to replicate the success of the Tesla Model Y with similar models.

Additionally, there is a lack of affordable EV options available to consumers. Cadillac is an exception, with EVs accounting for more than 10% of their sales. However, for the rest of General Motors' U.S. vehicle volumes, EVs make up less than 3%. This indicates a need for auto makers to produce cheaper and more distinct EV models that cater to a wider range of consumers.

Rivian Automotive stands out as an example of success in this regard. They offer all-electric midsize trucks and an SUV with a larger third row, providing unique products in the U.S. market. As a result, their sales experienced a remarkable 150% year-over-year growth, reaching a production volume of 57,232 units in 2023.

While there are still challenges related to charging infrastructure and tax credits that need to be addressed, auto makers can gain valuable insights by studying the current sales numbers. By doing so, they will be better equipped to meet the growing demand for EVs.

The release of delivery results had a slight impact on GM stock, decreasing by 1.7% during midday trading. However, these numbers were not necessarily disappointing considering the overall weakness of the market, with the S&P 500 down 0.4% as 10-year government bond yields increase.

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