GM's Market Share Up in U.S. Despite 16% Sales Drop

September turned out to be the highest monthly market share of the year

Because it managed to post narrower losses than its competitors in a weakening economy, General Motors heralded a 16% drop in U.S. sales in September as a sign of its recovery.

The automaker said it posted its highest monthly market share of the year with sales of 284,300 vehicles and said it anticipated overall auto sales would be down 20% in September.

"September marked the second consecutive month where GM performed extremely well in tough market conditions," said Mark LaNeve, vice president of vehicle sales, service and marketing for GM North America. "We again gained retail share and our total market share looks to be above 27% for the month without an increase in incentives."

GM said its third quarter sales of 828,000 vehicles were 4% higher than second quarter sales of 799,000 vehicles and 3% higher than first quarter sales of 806,000 units.

It attributed the gains to a "strong lineup of new products, combined with sales and marketing programs geared toward a particularly challenging market" which enabled GM to outpace its competitors. "In a market where customers are cautious and seeking value, more and more are choosing a fuel efficient, award-winning GM product," LaNeve added. "Importantly, market share improved more than three percentage points quarter-to-quarter."

Car sales slipped 9.8% to 118,440 vehicles in September and were down 10.2% for the year to date at 1.03 million vehicles. Truck and sport utility vehicle sales were down 19.3% in September to 164,366 and have fallen 22.7% so far this year to 1.4 million vehicles.

GM said it has also "aggressively managed inventories to historically low levels" bringing September inventories down to the lowest level in a decade of about 717,000, a 20% drop from a year earlier.

Third quarter production was down 10% to 915,000 vehicles in North America as GM cut truck production by about 175,000 vehicles and increased car production by about 70,000 units. Fourth quarter production was forecasted to remain at 875,000 vehicles, a 16% drop from 2007.

Copyright Agence France-Presse, 2008

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