2009 December Auto Sales - Special Year-End Edition!

GENERAL MOTORS -30%
GM's results are the most difficult to dissect of any car company this past year. Not only did GM earn public enmity by taking a government bailout, it went through a hugely publicized bankruptcy, slashed hundreds of its dealers in a massive bloodletting, and is closing down two of its major brands and attempting to sell two minor ones. For all that, what's surprising is that its 30% sales decline - although hideous - wasn't even worse. GM finished the year still the nation's biggest auto seller, some 300,000 units ahead of number-two Toyota. GM lost further ground in December 2009, with a 6% sales decline versus December 2008, but those totals include the run-out brands (and, the company claims, a one-third decline in fleet sales). Separate out only Chevrolet, GMC, Buick, and Cadillac, and you get a 2% increase in December, and a 26% full-year drop. Still not good, but a bit less bad.

CHRYSLER LLC -36%
Chrysler endured almost as much negative juju in 2009 as GM - with bailout, bankruptcy, and bloodletting - but it did not shutter any brands, so its sales results are less murky. They're just bad. Nor was Chrysler able to participate in the December bounce, with sales off 4% versus last December's grim total.

MITSUBISHI -44%
Mitsubishi capped off a wretched 2009 with a somewhat less wretched month of December, with sales off by 5% versus the previous December.

MASERATI -49%
Maserati's 2009 bad news continued right through December, with a 57% decline in the final month of the year.

SUZUKI -54%
Like Mitsubishi, Japan's other small player, Suzuki, suffered mightily in 2009, but it saw no relief in December, with sales for the month down 48% versus year-ago.

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