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GM's U.S. Sales Plunge 45% in September

Company says Q4 looks brighter

General Motors saw U.S. sales crash in September, falling 45% in the wake of the expiration of the popular government-funded "Cash for Clunkers" program, the automaker said on Oct. 1. GM said weak consumer confidence and extremely low inventory also hit sales.

"September was a tough transitional month for the industry, and a difficult year-over-year comparison for GM," said Mark LaNeve, vice president for GM's U.S. sales. "As expected, the market returned to pre-Cash for Clunkers levels in September, but we believe that our four core brands -- Chevrolet, GMC, Buick and Cadillac -- are well positioned with new products to generate enthusiasm."

GM said its sales were down 36% for a "strong August" when sales fell 20% from August 2008 but were up 30% from July.

The fourth quarter "looks brighter" and LaNeve noted that "our year-over-year comparisons should look more favorable" in the coming months given that the current collapse began a year ago.

September sales fell 44.9% in September at 156,673 vehicles and were down 36.4% for the year to date at 1.55 million.

GM, which temporarily shuttered its factories when it sought bankruptcy protection in June, said inventory levels remain at very low levels but plans to gear-up production in the fourth quarter "to replenish depleted dealer stocks and improve availability of our vehicles for customers."

Production is forecast to be up 20% from the third quarter but will nonetheless be down 20% from the fourth quarter of 2008.

Copyright Agence France-Presse, 2009

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