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Published: Saturday, 2/2/2008

Only GM gains as January vehicle sales in U.S. slide


DETROIT - U.S. car and truck sales slipped again last month as all major automakers reported declines except for General Motors Corp., and companies braced for some tough months ahead.

Overall U.S. sales dropped 4.3 percent in January compared with the same period last year, during a month that generally is the year's low point. January sales projected for a full year amounted to 15.2 million, a decline of nearly a 900,000 vehicles from last year's figures, according to Autodata Corp.

Despite the slowing economy, GM, led by strong crossover vehicle sales, reported a January increase of 2.6 percent. The world's largest automaker by sales grew its share of the U.S. market to 23.9 percent last month, up from 22.2 percent in January of last year.

But Toyota Motor Corp., Ford Motor Co., Chrysler LLC, Nissan Motor Co., and Honda Motor Co. all saw their sales drop.

Toyota, which had seen strong growth last year, said its January sales dropped 2.3 percent, to 171,849. Its performance still was strong enough to beat Ford for the No. 2 U.S. sales spot. At Ford, sales declined 4 percent, to 159,355.

Chrysler sales dropped 12 percent, in part because its pickup truck and sport utility sales slid nearly 24 percent.

The Toledo-built Jeep Liberty had a 17 percent boost in sales last month from a year ago, at 8,331, but the local sister, Jeep Wrangler, had a drop of 31 percent in sales to 6,137. The Dodge Nitro, also built in Toledo, had a sales decline of 6,119, off 1 percent.

Nissan sales dipped 7.3 percent, while Honda's fell 2.3 percent.

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