By Karl Henkel
Seasonal trends and an increase in Japanese auto inventory in October led to the Chevrolet Cruze’s lowest sales month since January.
General Motors Co. reported Tuesday that it sold 14,295 of the Lordstown-built compact cars last month, 183 percent higher than the 5,048 sales last October, the first full month of sales after the model’s debut.
It also was the lowest single-month sales total since January, when GM sold 13,631 Cruzes.
October also snapped the Cruze’s five-month streak as the best-selling compact car in the U.S. Both the Toyota Corolla and Honda Civic — perennial frontrunners — topped the Cruze.
Kristen Andersson, auto analyst at TrueCar.com, said both Toyota and Honda improved inventory levels, previously their weak spot after the March 11 earthquake and tsunami in Japan.
TrueCar.com reported that Honda Motor Co. raised its incentives by 18 percent, to $2,380 per vehicle, while Nissan Motor Co.’s incentives swelled 15 percent to $2,917. The Big Three automakers did not follow suit.
Add that to the seasonal trend of fewer auto sales in October, and the Cruze was unable to match its summer success, though Andersson expects sales to rebound.
“Sales will probably come a little bit back in line,” she said Tuesday. “There were so many factors that bumped the Cruze up during the summer months. Sales will probably run in the 18,000 to 20,000 range.”
Dave Green, president of United Auto Workers Local 1714, said he’s not worried about October’s sales figures.
“This is always the time of the year when sales start to slow down, but we’re still working three shifts and still focusing on a quality car,” he said.
Green added that GM regularly tinkers with production schedules, but that he doesn’t expect any major changes anytime soon.
The Lordstown plant remained busy throughout October and manufactured 26,717 vehicles, according to GM.
Overall auto sales topped expectations and the industrywide sales rate is now about 13.3 million, a yearlong high.
GM’s sales overall increased 2 percent in October. Chrysler Group LLC sales spiraled 27 percent. Nissan Motor Co. said sales were up 18 percent. Ford Motor Co. sales climbed 6 percent.
Toyota sales plummeted 8 percent; Honda reported sales dropped 1 percent.
October had 26 selling days, one fewer than in 2010.