Janesville33.7°

Sales of local GM trucks drop

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JAMES P. LEUTE
February 4, 2008
— Despite an overall solid sales month for General Motors, deliveries of full-size sport-utility vehicles made in Janesville declined in January.

The automaker reported Friday that compared to January 2007, last monthís sales of Chevrolet Suburbans were down 14.4 percent, whiles those of the Chevy Tahoe dropped 12.1 percent.


Deliveries of GMC Yukon XLs fell 19 percent, while sales of GMC Yukons were down 17.3 percent.


The four vehicles are made at GMís assembly plant in Janesville as well as at GM plants in Arlington, Texas, and Silao, Mexico.


Last monthís drop continues a declining trend in the full-size SUV market thatís been taking shape for several years. That trend has been fueled by an uncertain economic situation and a consumer shift to crossover vehicles that get better gas mileage.


Last year, GM sold 338,600 Suburbans, Tahoes, Yukon XLs and Yukons, a drop of 4.7 percent from 2006. The 2007 sales number extended a decline that dates to at least 2002, when GM sold more than 500,000 of the trucks common to the Janesville, Arlington and Silao plants.


Expecting that decline to continue, GM will slow its production rate in Janesville starting in April. The local assembly line will slow from 52 jobs an hour to 44.


The slowdown, layoffs and an expected GM buyout plan are expected to decrease employment levels in Janesville, where 2,500 hourly and 200 salaried personnel now work.


On a corporate basis, GM shined in January while the rest of the industry took a dive. GM posted a 2.6 percent sales gain in January.


U.S. consumers bought just 1.04 million cars and trucks last month, down 4.3 percent from the same month a year ago. The performance translated into an annual seasonally adjusted selling rate of 15.24 million cars and trucks, making last month the worst January in a decade.


Nearly every major automaker posted declines. Sales were down 12.1 percent at Chrysler, 7.3 percent at Nissan, 3.9 percent at Ford and 2.3 percent at both Toyota and Honda.


óMaterial from Gazette wire services was used in this story.

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