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GM's U.S. Sales Drop 41%

Company says this is the lowest sales rate in 50 years

General Motors reported a 41% drop in November sales on Dec. 2 as it prepared to return to Washington to press lawmakers for a multibillion dollar bailout. The automaker blamed the global economic crisis and credit freeze for its poor results and estimated that total demand for all brands in the U.S. markets fell by more than 34% or about 430,000 vehicles in November.

GM said U.S. auto sales are now at their lowest rate in at least 50 years on a per capita basis. "Every manufacturer is posting awful numbers and we are no exception," said Mark LaNeve, vice president of North America vehicle sales, service and marketing. "The fact that we have outstanding, high quality, fuel efficient products and great deals in almost every market segment is not driving demand right now," LaNeve added.

"The consumer is scared and sitting on the sideline. We need appropriate economic stimulus to get the consumer back in the game."

The automaker said its market share was expected to remain at around 20% or 21% of its home market.

Total sales fell to 154,877 vehicles in November and were down 22% to nearly 2.8 million vehicles for the year. Car sales were down 44% to 58,786 while truck and sport utility sales were down 39% to 94,618.

GM has warned that it could run out of cash as early as January if it does not receive billions of dollars in government-backed low-interest loans. It is expected to submit a plan to Congress later on Dec. 2 detailing how it would use the money to restructure its business.

GM said that its fourth quarter North American production would be down about 20% to 835,000 vehicles. It expects first quarter production to be down 32% to 600,000 vehicles compared with the first quarter of 2008 when GM built 885,000 vehicles after production was cut by 100,000 vehicles because of a strike at a key supplier.

Copyright Agence France-Presse, 2008

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