General Motors expects US vehicle sales to strengthen industry-wide in January, with its own results helped by giving away of 1,000 cars and trucks over the next two months, according to Reuters.

Gary Cowger, head of GM’s North American automotive operations, reportedly said industry-wide sales will total a seasonally adjusted annual rate of between 16.6 million to 17.0 million in January, above a rate of 16.3 million in January last year.

Excluding medium- and heavy-duty trucks, Cowger’s rate translates to overall sales of between 16.2 million to 16.6 million compared with 15.9 million last year, Reuters said.

“That’s a wide range, but you just can’t tell, because the last week defines the market,” Cowger told Reuters following a speech at a conference sponsored by the trade magazine Automotive News late Wednesday.

The news agency said that, in a typical month, a large proportion of vehicle sales are finalised in the last week.

Cowger told Reuters that over 42,000 people visited GM dealerships in the first two days last week of the carmaker’s “Hot Button” giveaway of 1,000 cars and trucks until the end of February. The $US50 million marketing programme, which GM bills as the largest in automotive history, is aimed at helping the company boost its sales through one of the slowest periods and above last year’s slow start to the year, the report added.