Will new Chevy vehicles rev up GM?
Strong Silverado sales offset a slump in aging brands, but the automaker is betting on small fuel-efficient cars for the future.
On Thursday, General Motors (GM), along with other U.S. automakers, reported November sales. GM sales rose 6.9%, a slight miss from analysts' estimates of 7.4%. Sales of its Chevy Silverado pickup jumped 34%, compensating for falling sales of its aging Malibu and Impala sedans. Going forward, the company hopes to increase sales by introducing new, small, fuel efficient cars.
Chevy has historically struggled to compete in the economy car class. The previous generation featured the Aveo and Cobalt, both of which were poorly received by consumers. Automotive reviews panned the vehicles for using cheap interior plastics, having poor handling capabilities, and lacking the reliable characteristics of their Japanese competitors. Chevy followed up with the Cruze compact car, which was an improved offering but still did not present the same value proposition as that of the Ford Focus and Hyundai Elantra.
Chevy hopes to reverse this trend with its new Chevy Spark, a subcompact vehicle designed to compete primarily with the Nissan Versa and Hyundai Accent. Cars in this class have historically been overlooked by consumers. Their lack of standard features and handling dynamics amounting to a driving experience that is slightly better than riding a bike to work. However, with rising gas prices, customers have turned to smaller vehicles, and manufacturers have responded by adding more equipment and safety technology.
The Spark will be the smallest car Chevy has ever sold. It uses a 1.2 liter four-cylinder engine with an output of 85 horsepower and comes standard with a manual transmission and front wheel drive. The optional four speed automatic transmission will be the one likely be selected by most Spark buyers. Chevy also hopes to bring an electric version of the Spark to market soon, and it will likely get significantly better gas mileage than the Volt due to the car's reduction in size and weight.
The car manufacturer has recently faced criticism over reports that a Chevy Volt caught fire several days after it was used in a crash test. While the car has yet to experience such inflammatory incidents in real world driving, the company is revising its electric technology to de-power its batteries in the event of an accident.
GM shares have plummeted nearly 37% since its IPO, and incredibly strong offerings by competitors such as Hyundai and Ford (NYSE: F) have made it difficult for the company to return to its former glory. Chevy hopes that its new Spark and upcoming Malibu replacement will help to pick up sales in the coming year. If that happens, look for a potential rebound in GM's share price.
Neither Benzinga nor its staff offer investment advice, nor do they recommend that you buy, sell, or hold any security.
More from Benzinga:
Last four vehicles, two Silvarados an Impala and now a Malibu have been great almost no problems. Mailbu in not dated and is going to even better next year. Impala is dated but it's still a great car for a family. I for one am glad GM is paying America back am continuing to improve their lineup.
In Toyota's defense, GM had the most when it was number-one... But GM is semi-crappy, so that's not too surprising.
Chrysler is one of the worst, but most of its problems are cash cows for service, but not major enough to spark a recall.
MORE ON MSN MONEY
Copyright © 2013 Microsoft. All rights reserved.
Fundamental company data and historical chart data provided by Morningstar Inc. Real-time index quotes and delayed quotes supplied by Morningstar Inc. Quotes delayed by up to 15 minutes, except where indicated otherwise. Fund summary, fund performance and dividend data provided by Morningstar Inc. Analyst recommendations provided by Zacks Investment Research. StockScouter data provided by Verus Analytics. IPO data provided by Hoover's Inc. Index membership data provided by Morningstar Inc.
Plus, after much ado, Softbank is oh-so-close to acquiring Sprint.
VIDEO ON MSN MONEY
Top Stocks provides analysis about the most noteworthy stocks in the market each day, combining some of the best content from around the MSN Money site and the rest of the Web.
Contributors include professional investors and journalists affiliated with MSN Money.
Follow us on Twitter @topstocksmsn.