General Motors' US sales slip as it places big bet on pickup trucks

Attendees stand under a General Motors Co. 2017 Sierra 2500 Denali HD pickup truck during the Chicago Auto Show in Chicago, Illinois, U.S., on Thursday, Feb. 9, 2017.
Daniel Acker | Bloomberg | Getty Images

General Motors' sales slipped in the U.S. during the fourth quarter, but the automaker said Thursday there's still strong demand for pickup trucks, sport utility vehicles and crossovers.

The largest U.S. automaker said its Chevrolet and GMC brands led the industry in pickup sales for the fifth-consecutive year.

Overall, U.S. sales fell 2.7 percent during the fourth quarter of 2018 from a year earlier, the Detroit automaker said.

"We feel confident heading into 2019 because we have more major truck and crossover launches coming during the year and the U.S. economy is strong," said Kurt McNeil, U.S. vice president of sales operations at GM.

The sales figures are the automaker's first such report since GM announced plans to cut 14,000 jobs amid waning consumer demand for passenger cars. GM plans to shift more of its production toward trucks, SUVs and crossovers, which are currently more popular than ever among buyers. These vehicles tend to fetch higher prices (and bigger profits) for automakers, which GM desperately needs as it sinks money into new businesses such as ride sharing, and new technologies such as self-driving cars.