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GM's U.S. Sales Up 14% in January

Will increase first quarter production by 75% to 650,000 vehicles

Assisted by strong fleet sales, General Motors reported a 14% increase in overall January U.S. sales to 146,825 vehicles.

The largest U.S. automaker said sales to commercial, government and rental car fleets comprised 29% of January sales and were up 25% from a year earlier.

Retail sales at GM's four core brands -- Chevrolet, Buick, GMC and Cadillac -- rose three percent in January to 102,420 vehicles.

Overall retail sales were down 10% from a year earlier due to a 90% drop in sales at the brands GM is winding down or selling: Pontiac, Saturn, Saab and Hummer.

"This is the fourth month in a row that Chevrolet, Buick, GMC and Cadillac have shown a collective year-over-year retail sales increase," said Susan Docherty, GM vice president, Sales, Service and Marketing. "Our long-term plan to continue to focus and strengthen our brands is delivering results."

GM estimated that industry sales would come in at a seasonally adjusted annualized rate of 11.0 to 11.3 million vehicles, which is largely on par with sales in the fourth quarter of last year.

"Based on the strengthening U.S. economy, we are increasing our 2010 calendar year sales outlook to 11.5 to 12.0 million" vehicles, GM said. "In the U.S., we are seeing a strong rebound in manufacturing and stabilization of consumer confidence, which will support a slow but steady improvement in the vehicle market."

GM said it planned to increase first quarter production by 75% to 650,000 vehicles.

It also managed to slash its dealer inventory by 51% to 390,000 vehicles in January compared with a year earlier.

Copyright Agence France-Presse, 2010

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