Page last updated at 10:31 GMT, Wednesday, 6 January 2010

Ford, General Motors and Chrysler see sales collapse

Icicles form on the grille of a Ford vehicle
Ford saw sales drop 15% last year

US car makers have reported plummeting car sales following a tough year for the industry.

General Motors saw sales fall by 30% in 2009, while Chrysler reported its worst annual sales for 47 years.

Sales at Ford, which avoided bankruptcy last year, fell 15%, though it saw its first gain in market share since 1995.

Total US car sale in 2009 were at their lowest levels for nearly 30 years, according to figures from the research company Autodata.

Cause for optimism?

Sales figures for December have shown some signs of recovery in the market at the end of the year.

General Motors, which sought bankruptcy protection in June, saw a 6% fall in sales for December, but those falls were largely seen in the brands it intends to sell off.

Sales of Chevrolet, Cadillac, GMC and Buick brands - which it will keep - rose by 13%.

Ford also saw a rise in sales in December, with 33% more cars sold compared with a year ago.

Chrysler's December sales dropped 4%.

Asian car makers fared better, however, with Toyota's US sales rising 23% in December. Even so, its full-year sales were down 20%, with Nissan and Honda seeing similar figures.

New year hopes

The year 2009 was a calamitous one for the US car industry, with both GM and Chrysler forced into bankruptcy.

But sales saw a boost from the government's "cash for clunkers" scheme, which offered subsidies for the purchase of new cars.

Analysts are optimistic at the prospects for the car market in the new year.

The Center for Automotive Research in Michigan is predicting a 19% rise in new car sales, citing improved credit availability and increased demand.

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