GM posts surprise jump in US sales
Detroit, February 3, 2008
General Motors Corp has posted a surprise 2.6 per cent increase in January US vehicle sales on the back of popular new models as its Japanese and US rivals reported declining sales.
GM, the No.1 US automaker, reported a jump in retail passenger car sales supported by a new Chevrolet Malibu model and raised its first-quarter North American vehicle production forecast by two per cent, showing more signs that a focus on developing new vehicles has taken hold.
The rest of the major automakers reported sales declines, including Toyota Motor Corp, now the No.2 seller in the United States.
Toyota, which reported a 2.3 per cent sales decline, offered far lower incentives on its vehicles than the US-based automakers. Sales of the Camry, the top-selling car in the United States, were about flat, while sales of its Prius hybrid jumped 37 per cent.
Ford Motor Company, now No.3 in US sales, reported a 3.6 per cent sales decline - broadly in step with sales dips posted by Toyota and Honda Motor.
Chrysler, controlled by Cerberus Capital Management, said sales fell 12 per cent as it slashed sales to rental fleets and saw weaker demand for its pickup trucks and SUVs, while Nissan Motor Co Ltd's sales slid 7.3 per cent.
Industry executives and analysts broadly expected US auto sales to decline in January, typically a weak sales month, but the overall figure was worse than most expected.
'It's not going to get any easier - at least for awhile,' Ford group vice president Jim Farley said in a statement.
Auto sales results are one of the first snapshots each month of US consumer spending.
Higher gasoline prices combined with the slumping housing market have raised concerns the US economy could tip into recession this year and cause consumers to delay big-ticket purchases such as new vehicles. That has led many in the auto industry to predict a second straight year of lower sales.-Reuters
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