In an ominous sign for the year ahead, US car sales went into reverse last month, declining 2% year-on-year.

Among the ‘big three’, General Motors shifted 293,086 cars and light trucks in January, down 2% from the same month in 2002, while DaimlerChrysler tumbled 12% to 129,222. Ford Motor Company, however, bucked the trend with an incentive-fuelled 4.1% sales increase to 242,555.

There were mixed fortunes for other manufacturers too. Honda and Nissan were up (+6% and +1% respectively), but Toyota slipped 6% and Volkswagen 16%.

Overall, January sales came in at an annual rate of 15.9 million to 16.1m, well down on December’s 18.2m. This fall in part reflects a retreat – by General Motors in particular – from the generous incentives on offer at the end of 2002.

Data sourced from: multiple sources; additional content by WARC staff