Chrysler, Ford report double-digit drops for 2009

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DETROIT (AP) — Automakers are glad to see the end of 2009, the worst year for U.S. sales in nearly 30 years.

Ford and Chrysler both saw sharp declines, but each claimed to have momentum going into this year.

Chrysler Group LLC posted its worst sales in 47 years, selling just over 931,000 cars and trucks. It was the first time sales dropped below 1 million since 1962.

But its December sales rose 36 percent over November, a sign of slow and steady progress under the company’s new Italian management. And compared with December of 2008, monthly sales slipped just 4 percent, a far smaller drop than the double-digit declines seen for most of the year.

Ford Motor Co. said full-year sales declined 15 percent, but the company said it posted its first full-year gain in U.S. market share since 1995. It also reported a 33 percent increase in December sales thanks to strong demand for midsize cars like the Ford Fusion, whose sales rose 83 percent. The Ford Escape crossover, meanwhile, rose 75 percent.

It was a tough year for the industry, as credit froze, the economy and consumer confidence faltered and unemployment rose. U.S. sales for the full-year are expected to be their worst since 1982.

General Motors, Toyota, Hyundai and others will report December and full-year sales figures later Tuesday.