Chrysler Sales Down 4% in December

Sales off 36% in 2009

Chrysler posted a 4% drop in U.S., bringing total 2009 sales down 36% amid a broad economic downturn and a painful restructuring under bankruptcy protection.

The troubled automaker expressed optimism that sales would improve in 2010 and announced a new incentive program to lure customers to its showrooms.

"As we kick off the new year, Chrysler Group continues to build momentum with some of the best products in the marketplace, and we are enthusiastic about the new products coming this year" Fred Diaz, Chrysler's top sales executive, said.

"Our great Chrysler, Jeep, Dodge and Ram products are being recognized by opinion leaders in the industry, and consumers are responding in a positive way. In 2010 the company will continue to earn the trust of consumers with exciting, high-quality vehicles that are priced right."

December sales fell to 86,523 vehicles from 89,813 a year earlier. 2009 sales were down to 931,402 from 1,453,122 in 2008.

Chrysler estimated that total U.S. auto sales would be fall to 11.3 million vehicles in 2009 from 13.2 million in 2008.

Chrysler said it managed to reduce its industry levels by 55% to 178,538 units, representing a 58-day supply.

The automaker announced plans to offer up to $4,000 cash back or zero percent financing for almost all 2010 model year vehicles.

Chrysler chief Sergio Marchionne said last month that it will probably take up to two years to determine whether the company's elaborate turnaround plan is actually working.

Copyright Agence France-Presse, 2010

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