General Motors vice chairman Bob Lutz said on Wednesday that he saw no sign that America's love for sport utility vehicles had suffered from criticism of their heavy fuel consumption or worries over safety, according to Reuters.

Despite a 20% drop in GM's SUV sales in the United States in February, after record truck sales a year earlier, Lutz said the automaker still expected to sell about 1.1 million SUVs this year, Reuters said.

"I believe the anti-sport utility faction is trying to create the demise of the SUV by reporting its demise when in fact no such demise is taking place," Lutz told Reuters at the Geneva motor show.

Reuters noted that some of GM's largest sport utility vehicles, such as the Chevrolet Suburban, the Chevrolet Tahoe and GMC Yukon XL, all recorded a drop in US sales of 30% or more last month. Ford also recorded a drop in February sales of some of its most popular SUVs, although at a much more moderate rate. And Ford's new Lincoln Navigator and Lincoln Aviator both recorded stronger sales in February.

According to Reuters, Wall Street analysts have said that the drop in GM's US sales in February was due to the Presidents Day snowstorm that blanketed much of the US East Coast, falling consumer confidence due to the weak stock market and war fears.

Reuters also noted that GM chief executive Rick Wagoner said on Tuesday that his firm’s consumer incentives, which helped GM gain market share the past two years, were clearly having less effect in luring buyers into showrooms.

Reuters said sport utility vehicles have been under a black cloud since a Hollywood group began running television commercials earlier this year charging that the petrol they burned was helping fund Middle Eastern terrorism.

In February, Reuters added, the US Senate held hearings examining the safety of SUVs shortly after the head of the US National Highway Transportation Safety Administration said he would be careful before buying some SUVs for his daughter.

Lutz told Reuters that GM's own market research shows that the "anti-SUV hysteria" is having little impact on consumers attitudes.

"If anything, the whole movement has had a hardening effect on the SUV buyer. (There is) absolutely not a smidgen of evidence that shows SUVs are falling out of favour," he told the news agency.

Sales of SUVs, key to the profits of Detroit's car makers, will still total about 4.5 million this year in the United States, Lutz told Reuters, or about 28% of total car and truck sales, forecast at between 16 million and 16.5 million.