General MotorsGeneral Motors reported Wednesday that sales fell 25% in August, as consumers held back from buying autos amid the lackluster economy.

For the month, GM said it sold 185,176 vehicles, compared to 246,479 a year ago, a decline of 24.9%. Among its four core brands -- Chevrolet, GMC, Buick and Cadillac -- sales fell 10.6%. Year-to-date, GM said it has sold 1.465 million vehicles, up 5.4% from the first eight months of 2009.

GM was the first automaker to report monthly U.S. sales figures Wednesday. Others, including close competitors Toyota Motor (TM) and Ford Motor (F), are expected to report August sales data later in the day.

On Tuesday, GM said it had begun ramping up production of the 2011 Chevrolet Cruze, which will start rolling into showrooms this month. The new compact, to compete with rivals such as the Toyota Corolla and Ford Focus, is estimated to get 36 mpg on the highway when equipped with a manual transmission, according to the Environmental Protection Agency.

Analysts will be watching how consumers respond to the Cruze, which replaces the dated Chevrolet Cobalt. GM needs to compete effectively in the compact car segment as car buyers seek to downsize to more fuel-efficient vehicles.

A GM spokesman said Wednesday that its dealers have fewer than 8,000 Cobalts in stock nationwide.

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