GM Global Sales Rise to Maintain Lead Over China Rival VW

General Motors Co.’s nine-month worldwide sales rose 4.6 percent to 7.25 million as the largest U.S. automaker vies with Toyota Motor Corp. and Volkswagen AG for the top spot globally.

Third-quarter deliveries rose 5.5 percent to almost 2.4 million cars and trucks with the largest gains in North America and the International Operations unit, which includes China, the Detroit-based automaker said yesterday in an e-mailed statement.

GM, Toyota and VW are locked in a three-way race for global sales supremacy. Toyota recaptured the annual global lead from GM in 2012 as the Japanese automaker recovered from Asian natural disasters the previous year. Then GM edged out Toyota for the top spot in this year’s second quarter, narrowing the Asian automaker’s lead.

Toyota hasn’t yet announced its third-quarter global sales results. VW deliveries rose 4.8 percent to 7.03 million cars and trucks during the three quarter period, the Wolfsburg, Germany-based automaker said Oct. 11 in a statement.

The toughest battle between GM and VW is playing out in China where both automakers have forecast sales climbing to 3 million this year. GM’s lead over VW in China narrowed to less than 1 percent in 2012.

VW finished the third quarter ahead of GM in China. The German automaker’s nine-months sales in China rose 18 percent to 2.35 million cars and sport-utility vehicles, boosted by locally produced vehicles such as Audi’s Q3 and Q5 sport-utility vehicles. European deliveries contracted 2.4 percent to 2.73 million vehicles.

Volkswagen’s Targets

The maker of VW, Audi and Porsche vehicles is relying on growth in China to help meet ambitious targets. VW has a goal of passing GM and Toyota by 2018 to become the world’s biggest auto manufacturer.

Sales of GM and its partners in China rose 11 percent to 2.31 million during the first three quarters compared with the same period a year earlier. Deliveries of GM’s Cadillac increased 51 percent during that time as the automaker works to expand the luxury brand in China.

Cadillac also helped increase GM sales in the U.S. where deliveries rose 7.6 percent during the first three quarters compared with a year earlier, according to researcher Autodata Corp.

GM gained 1.5 percent to $35.66 at the close yesterday in New York. The shares have climbed 24 percent this year, compared with 22 percent for the Standard & Poor’s 500 Index.

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