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GM tops VW for China sales lead

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By Alysha Webb Automotive News / August 15, 2005 BEIJING -- General Motors overtook Volkswagen AG to become sales leader in China in the first half of 2005. GM's momentum provides a bright spot in an otherwise disappointing year for the company. China is the world's fastest-growing market, and one of the only world markets expected to show solid long-term growth. GM was No. 1 from January through June with sales of 308,722, including imports. Volkswagen's total was 182,982, including an estimated 3,000 imports. GM is overtaking Volkswagen with superior marketing, a better dealer network and a better model mix. But winning in China is not as lucrative as it once was. Margins are tightening as the market turns to small vehicles. Vans, minivehicles are hot More than half of GM's sales came from low-priced minivehicles and commercial vans. Sales of most of its car models are slowing. But VW car sales are slowing even more. VW is still restructuring its China operations, and plans no new models until 2007. That leaves the market wide open for other automakers. Korean and Japanese automakers are in relentless pursuit of GM's lead. Beijing Hyundai Motor Co.'s sales in the first six months rose 93 percent to 108,274 units, and Guangzhou Honda Automotive Co.'s sales rose 33 percent to 106,213. The figures were provided by Automotive Resources Asia, a Shanghai consulting firm. Although GM is now No. 1, car sales at GM's flagship venture Shanghai GM fell 4.2 percent to 135,381 in the first six months, says GM. Sales of Shanghai GM's former best-selling model, the Buick Regal sedan, fell 35.5 percent to 31,528 units in the first six months compared with the same period in 2004, according to Automotive Resources. GM does not provide sales figures for individual models. On the other hand, sales at minivehicle maker SAIC-GM-Wuling Automobile Co. rose 48.7 percent from the same period of last year to 172,368, according to GM. GM owns 34.0 percent of Wuling. The venture makes the Chevrolet Spark, a car smaller than a subcompact; and six- and eight-seat minivans, used by small businesses to haul people and cargo. The vans sell for around $5,000. VW fights back VW has gone on the attack, putting more decision making power in China rather than Stuttgart. New hire Wei-Ming Soh, former head of Beijing Jeep sales and marketing, has bulked up VW's China marketing team, partly by luring a number of people away from DaimlerChrysler's China operations. Winfried Vahland, former head of Volkswagen's Skoda brand, became president of the China operations in June. Bernd Leissner, the former president, retired. Says Wei-Ming Soh, a VW sales vice president: "We will continue to do our best to offer a range of high-quality products."
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Here is the latest China sales. This weeks Autonews article that I sourced this from was talking about Toyota's lack of growth in China. I would like to point out another obvious ommision from that list. Something that hits a lot closer to home and emphasizes a potential problem in a growth market. Where is Ford?


Company Sales Jan.-June ’05
GM 307,749
VW 179,722
Hyundai Motor 152,363
Honda 117,761
Toyota 48,954
Note: Figures exclude imports
Source: GM, Automotive Resources Asia Edited by evok
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