General Motors reported a steep drop in earnings for the first quarter as its net income fell to $922.5 million, down 23.1% from the same period last year, when the world's largest industrial corporation earned nearly $1.2 billion.
The first-quarter results were slightly higher than had been expected by industry analysts, whose more pessimistic forecasts had ranged between $500 million and $800 million.
GM blamed the first-quarter decline on weak car sales in North America and around the world. Its worldwide vehicle sales fell 10% from last year's first quarter, and the company noted that the erosion of its U.S. market share forced it to curtail domestic production at several major assembly plants. At the same time, the company had to offer costly incentive programs during the first quarter, to avert an even bigger drop in sales.
In response, GM said it is "accelerating" its efforts to cut employment levels and phase out its "uncompetitive or obsolete" parts plants.