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Lajdziak to head Smart for Penske

January 5, 2010

Business headlines: Lajdziak to head Smart for Penske

FREE PRESS STAFF AND NEWS SERVICES

AUTOS: Lajdziak to head Smart for Penske

Penske Automotive Group, the second-largest U.S. auto retailer, named Jill Lajdziak president of its Smart USA unit that distributes Daimler minicars.

Lajdziak, former general manager of General Motors’ Saturn division, replaces Dave Schembri, the Bloomfield Hills-based company said Monday. Schembri will shift to Penske’s retail operations.

Smart’s U.S. sales tumbled 38% in 2009’s first 11 months, including a 66% slide in November. Penske, the operator of 310 dealership franchises, is the exclusive distributor for the cars in the U.S.

Tax cuts, incentives boost GM China sales

General Motors said Monday that 2009 sales in China by the company and its local partners rose 67% to a record 1.8 million vehicles amid tax cuts and incentives to help boost the industry.

Detroit-based GM and other global automakers are looking to China’s fast-growing market to drive sales amid slack demand elsewhere. Chinese auto purchases surpassed those in the U.S. for all but two of the first 11 months of the year. Total sales for December are yet to be released.

GM said its own China sales in December soared 96.6% from a year earlier to a new monthly high of 189,793 vehicles.

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