DETROIT — Chevrolet — once a powerhouse truck brand — said on Thursday that its cars have outsold combined sales of trucks, crossovers and SUVs in April, May and June of this year and are expected to represent 47 percent of the brand's sales for the first half of 2011.
The GM brand said in a statement that four-cylinder models are expected to account for 46 percent of Chevrolet retail sales for the first half of 2011. It attributed the trend to gas prices that are "more than a dollar higher than last year."
The migration of Chevrolet customers away from trucks to cars is dramatic evidence that high gas prices are forcing a move to smaller, more fuel-efficient vehicles.
The U.S. Energy Information Administration forecasts that the annual average regular-grade gasoline retail price will increase from $2.78 per gallon in 2010 to $3.60 per gallon in 2011 and $3.67 per gallon in 2012. The average price for a gallon of regular unleaded gasoline in the U.S. stood at $3.54 on Thursday, according to the AAA Daily Fuel Gauge.
The last time Chevy cars outsold trucks for three straight months was in May, June and July of 1991, when they made up 52 percent of sales for the year.
Chevrolet noted that there is strong demand for the Cruze and Malibu this year. It is also expected to get a boost from the Chevrolet Sonic subcompact, which goes on sale this fall, and the Chevrolet Spark minicar, slated to debut in late 2012. The Spark will be the smallest car in the Chevy lineup.