2009 December Auto Sales - Special Year-End Edition!

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

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

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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