General Motors posted a 6% drop in December U.S. sales on Jan. 5, bringing total 2009 sales down 30%.
"The year 2009 was a watershed year for us in many ways," said Susan Docherty, GM vice president of U.S. sales. "From our dealer restructuring to our focus on Chevrolet, Cadillac, Buick and GMC, we have made the difficult but necessary decisions to position our new company for success."
"We're looking forward to 2010 as a year when the economy continues a modest recovery, industry sales begin to improve and our outstanding new products build additional sales momentum," Docherty added.
A significant portion of the sales decline came from the wind-down of the Pontiac, Saturn, Saab and Hummer brands, the automaker said.
Sales of GM's core brands were up 2.2% to 193,824 in December and were down 26.7% at 2.5 million vehicles.
Sales of non-core brands -- Pontiac, Saturn, Hummer and Saab -- were down 54.6% in December at 13,687 and 46.7% in 2009 at 268,686 vehicles.
GM estimated that its retail market share would rise to 19.3% in the fourth quarter of 2009 from 17.3% in the third quarter. The automaker's market share was 22.2% in 2008.
Docherty noted that the orderly sell-down of Pontiac and Saturn inventory is 10 months ahead of schedule and the automaker only has about 800 Pontiacs and 900 Saturns left.
The automaker also has dramatically reduced its overall dealer inventory levels to 385,000 vehicles: the lowest year-end level on record and a 56% drop from 872,000 a year earlier.
GM estimated that total vehicle sales would fall to 10.6 million in 2009, the lowest since 1982 and down from 13.2 million in 2008 and 16.1 in 2007.
GM estimated that 2010 sales would rise to between 11.0 to 12.0 million vehicles.
Copyright Agence France-Presse, 2010