General Motors U.S. auto sales rise 4.8% in fourth quarter

FILE PHOTO: The GM logo is seen in Warren, Michigan, U.S. on October 26, 2015. REUTERS/Rebecca Cook/File Photo

(Reuters) – General Motors on Tuesday reported a 4.8% rise in U.S. auto sales for the fourth quarter, boosted by demand for new vehicles during the COVID-19 pandemic.

The U.S. automaker said its sales rose to 771,323 units from 735,909 units a year ago.

“We look forward to an inflection point for the U.S. economy in spring,” GM Chief Economist Elaine Buckberg said in a statement.

“Widening vaccination rates and warmer weather should enable consumers and businesses to return to a more normal range of activities, lifting the job market, consumer sentiment and auto demand,” Buckberg added.

The automaker said it gained market share across its segments in the fourth quarter and the calendar year. Average transaction price set a full-year record of $39,229.

Consumers in the financial position to buy a new car during the coronavirus pandemic aren’t holding back on upsizing their purchases in favor of bigger vehicles with more amenities, according to industry consultant Edmunds.

The average down payment for a new vehicle climbed to $4,734 in the fourth quarter, compared to $4,458 in the third quarter and $4,329 a year ago, the consultant said in a report.

Shares of the company rose 1.6% to $41.13 in morning trade.

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