Consumers Choose Fuel-efficiency As GM's Numbers Improve
April 4, 2012

Consumers Choose Fuel-efficiency As GM’s Numbers Improve

General Motors Company (GM) became the first US automaker to sell more than 100,000 30 mpg cars in a single month, according to a press release on Tuesday.

According to Mark Reuss, GM president for North America, about 40% of their March sales were these fuel-efficient cars.

GM is not alone in their steep sales increase of fuel-efficient cars, however. Other major automakers such as Ford Motor Company and Hyundai Motor Company have also seen increases in these kinds of cars. These automakers suggest high fuel costs are a likely factor in driving sales of these gas-sipping models.

According to the press release, Reuss said, “Three years ago, about 16 percent of the vehicles GM sold achieved at least 30 mpg on the highway. Today, that number is 40 percent.”

Other third-party analysts are also taking notice of this increase of high mpg vehicles on the road., an auto consultant and analyst compiled their own data about how many of these cars are being sold in America. Their estimates show the overall fuel economy of these vehicles have greatly improved since 2008. Furthermore, analyses from show car manufacturers are better prepared for steep increases in fuel prices, an important deciding factor for car buyers.

In their findings, said only 16% over GM´s overall sales came from fuel-efficient cars in 2008. Now, that number has risen to an impressive 43%.

As for Ford, sales of their most fuel-efficient cars made up 11% of total sales 4 years ago. This number is up to 36% as of March.

Korea´s Hyundai sold the highest percentage of fuel-efficient cars in March, totaling a whopping 83% of their total sales.

According to analyst Jesse Toprak, Detroit automakers are gaining ground on foreign automakers, once the industry leader in sales of fuel-efficient cars.

Speaking to CNN, Toprak said, “About half the share Toyota and Honda lost last year is probably more or less permanent losses that´ll be difficult to recoup.”

Analysts surveyed by Reuters forecast a sales rate of 14.75 million. A year earlier, automakers sold 13.1 million of these cars in the US.

GM is pointing to the Chevy Volt as a contributing factor of the success. March sales of GM´s electric hybrid vehicle were the highest since the model´s introduction in December 2010, according to a GM spokesperson. They´re hailing the Volt as a “Halo car," or a unique model that brings attention to the rest of the Chevy brand.

These impressive sales of the Volt come despite a work stoppage earlier in the year. As sales of the hybrid were lackluster through February, GM halted production at their plants in Detroit and Hamtramck, Michigan for five weeks. With sales of the Volt becoming quite brisk, the company says they will continue to monitor production and market demand.

The federal government estimates the Chevy Volt electric hybrid can get up to 93 miles per gallon.

Sales of the Volt had suffered due to an investigation by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration into the safety of the Volt´s battery pack. In their tests, the NHTSA found risks of fires. When the investigation closed in January 2012, the NHTSA said they were satisfied with GM´s improvements to the battery.

Despite the Volt having its best selling month yet, its numbers pale in comparison to the sales of GM´s other fuel-efficient vehicles. These numbers show a promising future both for US automakers and environmentalists alike.