said sales rose 17% in May, with sales of its four surviving core brands going up 32%.
The automaker said combined sales of the four core brands -- Chevrolet, Buick, GMC and Cadillac -- posted a double digit sales gain for the fifth straight month. Sales of Pontiac, Saab and Saturn, included last year, fell dramatically this May as the
. But sales of the four core brands have increased by 206,994 year-to-date, almost twice the volume lost from the discontinued brands.
In May, fleet sales provided an unusually large 38% of GM's May sales, with a 45% increase to 83,305 vehicles. But Steve Carlisle, vice president for U.S. sales, said fleet sales will account for a more normal 25% of overall sales by year end. He said rental car companies were restocking during the month.
fleet sales also rose -- 32% for the month.
Carlisle said GM sees "a gradual recovery" in the economy, with housing sales and employment trends more important to car buyers than the stock market volatility. "What we stay focused on is continuing to build our core brands," he said. "We continue to improve substantially, however you look at it, against a backdrop of steadily or slowly improving industry sales.
GM gains have been fueled by new product sales, with year-to-date combined sales of the Chevrolet Equinox, Chevrolet Camaro, Buick LaCrosse and Regal, GMC Terrain and Cadillac SRX and CTS Wagon up 323%.
GM incentives were the industry's highest in May, averaging $3,739, up $438 from April, according to
. Other automakers all reported declines. The average industry incentive was $2,603, down slightly from $2,631 in April, Edmunds said.
-- Written by Ted Reed in Charlotte, N.C.