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GM affiliates deliver strong sales results for Detroit HQ

Strong demand: Hummer sales were up 34 per cent globally.

Asia, Middle East help bolster 2006 sales result

18 Jan 2007

DESPITE its woes at home, General Motors affiliates in Asia, Latin America, Africa and the Middle East helped bolster the company's 2006 sales result.

Globally GM sold 9.09 million cars and trucks last year, making it only the third time - 2006, 2005 and 1978 - that the world’s largest automaker sold more than 9 million vehicles in a calendar year.

Last year's global sales were down less than 1 per cent from the 9.17 million vehicles sold in 2005, reflecting several factors, among them planned cuts of 75,000 vehicles in daily rental fleet sales in the United States and offsetting growth in other global markets.

"GM had some notable sales successes as we continued to expand in key growth markets around the world in 2006," according to GM’s vice president, global sales, service and marketing operations, John Middlebrook.

"In 2006, we saw 18 per cent growth in the Asia-Pacific region, and 17 per cent growth in the Latin America, Africa and Middle East region," he said.

"We're also seeing improving results in Europe." As GM executes its North America turnaround plan, much media attention has focused on the global sales races between it and its competitors, particularly Toyota.

Toyota Motor Corp continued to gobble up market share in 2006, passing DaimlerChrysler AG as the No 3 seller in the US for the first time during a full calendar year.

Toyota, which includes the Toyota, Lexus and Scion brands, ended the year with 15.4 per cent share of the US market, compared with DaimlerChrysler's 13.3 per cent.

Toyota's market share rose more than 2 percentage points, up from 13.3 per cent at the end of last year.

The company had its best year ever in 2006, with sales up 12.9 per cent for the year at more than 2.5 million vehicles.

In the US, where the locally built cars are losing ground against imports, car-makers like Toyota benefit from a reputation for quality and fuel economy as, like Australia, rising fuel prices saw many buyers switch from SUVs and utilities to smaller cars.

Industrywide, US sales dropped 2.6 per cent for the year to about 16.5 million from just under 17 million in 2005, according to the US equivalent of Australia’s VFACTS, Autodata Corp.

Ford was able to hold off Toyota and hold on to its No2 title last year after Toyota sales surpassed Ford for the first time in July and again in November.

Ford ended the year with 16.4 per cent share and it has forecast a 14 per cent to 15 per cent market share for the next several years, which if reached, means Toyota will pass Ford this year.

59 center imageLeft: Cadillac CTS and Saab 9-3.

For GM, the expansion of its Chevrolet, Hummer, Saab and Cadillac brands on to the world stage is showing signs of success. Hummer is scheduled to arrive in Australia in June and Cadillac possibly within another 18 months.

Global sales of GM's value brand, Chevrolet, were 4.3 million vehicles compared with 2005 sales of 4.37 million.

Chevrolet sales grew in three regions outside North America, Latin America, Africa and the Middle East, with a 19 per cent (144,000 vehicles) lift in sales over 2005.

Chevrolet also performed well in Asia-Pacific, with sales up 19 per cent while sales in Europe were up 15 per cent compared with 2005. The popularity of the Chevrolet Aveo – sold here as the Barina - helped.

GM also retains its strong truck portfolio, evidenced by Hummer sales that grew almost 34 per cent globally in 2006, with 82,000 vehicles delivered, compared with 61,000 in 2005.

The arrival of the mid-size H3, which arrives here mid-year, was responsibly for much of this growth.

While much of this growth was in the United States (up 26 per cent), Hummer sales were also up in Mexico and Canada.

Saab's 2006 global sales set a record at more than 133,000 vehicles. Saab had its highest sales volume ever in Europe, selling more than 90,000 vehicles with Spain, Belgium and Canada popular markets.

Cadillac posted a sales increase outside of North America thanks to a 22 per cent sales growth in Europe.

At 4.97 million vehicles, 2006 sales outside of the US accounted for about 55 per cent of GM's total global sales, growing at close to 7 per cent compared with 2005, outpacing the industry average growth rate of 6 percent.

The industry has experienced a 10 million vehicle increase in the global automotive market in the past five years, and the market now tops 67 million.

In the Asia-Pacific region, GM sales of 1.26 million vehicles topped 1 million vehicles for the second consecutive year, and GM China saw more than 32 per cent sales growth compared with 2005, outpacing the country's industry growth rate of 26 per cent.

GM was the top-selling automaker in China in 2006, with 877,000 vehicles sold. For the first time, GM sold more Buicks in China (304,000) than in the United States (241,000).

In the Latin America, Africa and Middle East region, GM sales reached an all-time record 1.03 million vehicles, exceeding 1 million vehicles for the first time, up 17 per cent in volume compared with 2005. Truck sales were up 21 per cent and car sales were up 16 per cent.

GM volumes increased in 10 of 11 Latin America, Africa and Middle East markets. GM Brazil set an all-time domestic sales record with 410,000 vehicles delivered.

In Europe, GM sales – for the first time – exceeded 2 million vehicles, up about 1 per cent.

Eastern European markets, which were up 59 per cent, led the increase.

Cadillac, Corvette, Hummer, Saab and Chevrolet set European sales records for their brands.

Chevrolet achieved record sales of more than 340,000 vehicles, up 15 per cent. Saab sold more than 90,000 vehicles, beating its previous European sales record of 82,000 sold in 2005.

Several GM brands also experienced notable growth with Opel and Vauxhall selling 1.6 million vehicles, increasing markets share in 14 European markets.

GM-Holden sold 147,000 vehicles in 2006 and the brand strengthened its second-place position in Australia as the Commodore remained that country’s best-selling car for the 11th consecutive year.

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