Far from being a celebration, General Motors' 100th year in business is turning out to be one of the most wrenching in its long history. The Detroit-based company lost its spot as the world's biggest carmaker Toyotalast month, after hanging on to it by the narrowest of margins last year. It also faces the massive task of shifting its focus from the big sports-utility vehicles and pick-up trucks that have dominated its North American product line-up - and its profits - for the past 15 years.

The domestic auto market is showing signs of revival thanks to the 4 percentage point cut (400 bps) in excise duty on cars and two-wheelers announced in February. April witnessed a jump of more than 17 per cent in the car segment, while sales in the utility vehicle segment rose by 31 per cent, as compared with the corresponding month last year. According to the figures released by the Society of Indian Automobile Manufacturers (SIAM), the passenger-vehicle segment, which also includes multi-purpose vehicles, grew by 21 per cent. The motorcycle sales grew by 8 per cent during the month.

As the credit crunch intensifies, carmakers are turning to an unusual way of moving vehicles off dealership lots: offering to throw in the petrol. In the UK, Fiat offers a payment-free period of nine months plus

DETROIT: Soaring gasoline prices have turned the steady migration by Americans to smaller cars into a stampede. In what industry analysts are calling a first, about one in five vehicles sold in the United States was a compact or subcompact car during April, based on monthly sales data released Thursday. Almost a decade ago, when sport utility vehicles were at their peak of popularity, only one in every eight vehicles sold was a small car.

The company reported a 0.6 per cent drop in its quarterly global sales to 2.25 million. General Motors said it expected global vehicle sales to rise by 4 per cent this year in spite of slumping demand for cars and trucks in the US, which hurt its quarterly sales figures. The forecast by the US group underscored the extent to which new car buyers in Russia, China, India and other emerging markets continue to prop up global carmakers' sales figures even as they plummet in rich countries more exposed to the US economic slowdown.

Rick Wagoner, General Motors' president and chief executive, has dismissed United Nations research that links biofuel production to rising food prices as "shockingly misinformed". The blunt assessment by the head of the world's largest car company reinvigorates intense debate about ostensible social costs and environmental benefits of biofuels, a burgeoning industry some analysts say crowds out food production. "If you look at what's causing higher [bio]fuel prices, the cost of corn is a very small part of that," Mr Wagoner said at the Auto China show in Beijing yesterday.

New car registrations fell nearly 10 per cent in Europe in March in a troubling sign for both the industry and broader consumer confidence on the continent. In an indication that more European consumers are deferring big-ticket purchases in the credit crunch, mass-market manufacturers all reported lower sales for the month. Most - including Volkswagen, Peugeot, Fiat, General Motors and Ford Motor - reported lower sales for the quarter.

The battery-testing facility at General Motorsin Michigan is working 24 hours a day, seven days a week on the Chevrolet Volt, the electric car the company this week described as its "number one priority". The US carmaker is developing the Volt and its still-unproven technology in parallel on one of its briskest development schedules ever. It aims to start selling the car by late 2010 and, in so doing, wrest industry leadership on environmental issues from Toyota, its archrival.

GM Plans 1,000 Fuel Cell Cars In Califoria By 2014 US: April 4, 2008 SACRAMENTO (Reuters) - General Motors Corp plans to have 1,000 hydrogen fuel cell vehicles in California between 2012 to 2014 to comply with the state's goal to put thousands of cleaner cars on its roads. GM has about 60 Chevrolet Equinox fuel cell vehicles in Southern California now, the automaker's vice president for research & development and planning, Larry Burns, said at the National Hydrogen Association conference here.

U.S. sales for each of the four largest automakers in the United States fell last month, prompting some executives to forecast a gloomy spring, a period that typically posts strong sales. General Motors and Toyota said they were optimistic about the benefits of declining interest rates and tax rebate checks that most Americans will get starting in May as part of the U.S. government's economic stimulus package. Executives at Ford Motor, however, said they did not think the industry had hit bottom yet.