DETROIT -- The chief financial officer of General Motors said on Monday that the weak U.S. dollar will put pressure on foreign automakers and is a "positive sign" for U.S. brands.
"I don't describe it as a weak dollar. Frankly, I think it's a return to a level that is sustainable over time," CFO John Devine told reporters following a press conference at GM's corporate headquarters.
"So I think it's going to help. Certainly it's going to put pressure on some of the foreign imports to move in the right direction," he said.
The dollar sank to a new four-year low against the euro and a two-year low against the yen on Monday after comments by U.S. Treasury Secretary John Snow reinforced the view that Washington was happy with a weak dollar.
Over the past few years, GM and other U.S. automakers have argued that the strong U.S. dollar gives foreign automakers an unfair advantage in the U.S. market. They have been especially critical of Japan's intervention to weaken the yen.
Last year, the top executives of the U.S. Big Three auto manufacturers sent a rare joint letter to President George W. Bush, asking him to appeal to the Japanese government to stop weakening the yen to boost the profits of Japanese automakers.
Japan's top five automakers all reported stronger annual profits recently, but several have warned that earnings could drop due to the weaker U.S. dollar and falling U.S. vehicle sales.
A weaker U.S. dollar causes the price to rise for vehicles imported into the United States and forces foreign automakers to cut prices and increase incentives to compete or risk lower sales.
However, some Japanese automakers, particularly Honda Motor Co. Ltd. and Toyota Motor Corp., build in North America many of the vehicles they sell in the United States.
German auto sales have fallen recently. Some analysts attribute that to pressure from the weak U.S. dollar, while others cite an aging car and truck lineup.