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Recession hits car sales hard

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Recession hits car sales hard

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The world’s car makers are revealing slumping sales for last year due to the economic crisis.

General Motors’ Opel and Vauxhall divisions saw sales fall 10.5 percent, with Saab down almost 22 percent but GM called that “A good result in difficult times.” BMW also said it performed “comparatively well” as it announced a sales fall of 26 percent in December though it did sell more Minis and Rolls-Royces. For the whole year, BMW’s sales worldwide were down 4.3 percent; that compares with a 4.8 percent drop for the industry as a whole. Renault, like just about every major manufacturer, fell short of its targets with sales down 4.2 percent last year compared with 2007. The French company said there had been a “brutal” fall in its main markets and its priority this year will be to continue reducing stocks of unsold vehicles. In common with other manufacturers, Renault has announced job cuts and temporary plant closures. Renault’s Japanese partner Nissan has just announced it is cutting 1,200 jobs at its plant at Sunderland in northeast England. Commenting on that British Business Secretary Peter Mandelson said the car industry globally is robust but needs serious restructuring. In South Korea, Ssangyong has just filed for bankruptcy protection after its December sales fell 53 percent. Its main investor is the Shanghai Automotive Industry Corporation, the biggest car maker in China, where there is also a sales slide along with other Asian markets like Japan and Indonesia.