GM's U.S. Sales Fell 31% in Dec.

For 2008 sales are off 23%

General Motors posted on Jan. 5 a 31% drop in December U.S. sales which helped pull 2008 sales down 23% to just under three million vehicles.

Anticipating continued weak sales, the biggest U.S. automaker lowered its forecast for first quarter production in North America by 180,000 units to 420,000 vehicles which is down about 53% from 2007.

Tight credit and a sharp drop in overall demand amid worsening economic conditions contributed to the losses in recent months, GM said.

A lengthy strike at a key supplier in the first half of the year also affected GM's annual results.

GM heralded the fact that its December sales of 221,983 vehicles were about 67,000 units higher than the weak results posted in November. "Given the ongoing challenges and the difficult market environment, we were very encouraged to see a volume rebound for GM in December compared with both October and November," said Mark LaNeve, vice president of GM's North American vehicle sales, service and marketing.

"We are building more vehicles than ever that provide great value and Americans enjoy owning," LaNeve said. "That is why, for the year, we are seeing our market share holding steady at just above 22%. That's five percentage points more and 760,000 vehicles more than our nearest competitor."

Total truck and sport utility vehicles sales fell 35% in December to 134,477 and 28 percent to 1.7 million vehicles in 2008.

Total car sales fell 25% to 87,506 in December and 16% in 2008 to 1.3 million vehicles.

Copyright Agence France-Presse, 2009

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