On Tuesday, our sister site, GM Authority, reported that General Motors will break with tradition by reporting its US sales results on a quarterly – rather than a monthly – basis. Kurt McNeil, GM’s US Vice President of Sales Operations, said in a statement that a month “is not enough time to separate real sales trends from short-term fluctuations in a very dynamic, highly competitive market” like the US.
Now, SFGate reports that Ford Motor Company has expressed some interest in following suit, sharing sales data in the world’s second-largest auto market four times a year rather than adhering to the now-standard monthly reports. “We think it’s interesting and a pretty significant development for the industry,” Ford’s US Vice President of Marketing, Sales & Service, Mark LaNeve, said during a conference call with analysts. “Their comment that there’s a lot of volatility in month-to-month sales, I believe there is some validity to that. So we’re going to assess it and take a look.”
Before now, the only big American automaker that didn’t adhere to the voluntary monthly-sales-report rule was Tesla Motors, which publishes sales data every quarter. That company doesn’t separate out its US deliveries from its sales data for the rest of the world, unlike Detroit’s Big Three automakers.
According to SFGate, South Korea’s Hyundai is also undecided on how it will report sales figures in the future, while Honda is “sympathetic” to GM’s decision to switch to quarterly reports, but has no plans to follow suit. Fiat Chrysler, Volkswagen, and Mercedes-Benz have all said they’ll stick to monthly reports.
Monthly sales reports in the US started in late-1990, according to The Detroit News, when Chrysler moved away from the then-standard practice of reporting sales every 10 days. Rivals Ford and General Motors later followed suit, establishing monthly sales reports as the new norm. But as sales for individual months can be impacted drastically by new product launches, weather conditions, incentives, fleet ordering cycles, and other factors, quarterly sales reports could give what GM hopes will be more of a fair, less-finicky look at US sales trends.
Michelle Krebs, an automotive analyst for AutoTrader, told The Detroit News that automakers very well “might get a little bit of backlash from some who say they are not being transparent enough” by switching to quarterly sales reports. However, she says that both GM and Ford are already more transparent than many of their competitors, including telling figures like average transaction prices, days of supply, and incentive spending with their monthly sales reports.
Ford’s latest monthly sales report was published today, the automaker recording a modest 3.4-percent up-tick in US sales for the month of March, compared to the same month last year.