You hear it all the time: market share doesn't matter, profits do. True, at the end of the day I'd rather have a profitable automaker selling fewer vehicles than a money loser leading in market share.
Still, market share matters and the November auto sales paint a troubling picture for the country's largest auto makers. Through November, General Motors market share has slipped to 17.9% (vs. 19.7% a year ago) in a year when auto sales are up 13.9%. It raises the question: Who ate GM's lunch?
Make no mistake, nearly every automaker in the U.S. has increased sales this year, but some have grabbed a bigger slice of the pie than others.
Auto Sales Gains in '12
Industry Increase: 1,601,370
Toyota: 421,831 (26.3%)
Chrysler: 268,325 (16.8%)
Honda: 247,956 (15.5%)
Hyundai/Kia: 124,965 (7.8%)
Volkswagen: 122,496 (7.6%)
Nissan: 100,759 (6.3%)
Ford: 96,553 (6.0%)
GM: 80,538 (5%)
You get the picture. In a year when auto sales have jumped by 1.6 million vehicles General Motors only collect 5% of the increase. GM will point out that 2012 is a transition year where it has a number of older models it is transitioning out of in the next year.
It's also maintaining a much more disciplined approach when it comes to incentives. If it threw more cash on the hood it probably could have stolen a decent out of the new sales this year from Toyota, Chrysler and Honda. Both are true.
Also true is the fact that in one of those rare years when auto sales in the world's most lucrative market exploded, GM failed to cash in as much as its rivals.
Credit Chrysler and the J3 with not only being more aggressive with incentives but for also rolling out new and refreshed models winning over buyers. From the growth of the Ram pick-up line to the re-hot line-up of Toyota Prius models (sales up more than 90% YTD) to the growth of Audi and Volkswagen there are plenty of cases where competitors have picked off market share from GM.
The question now is where GM's market share winds up at the end of this year?