- The Washington Times - Friday, January 6, 2006

SHANGHAI (AP) — General Motors Corp. became China’s top-selling foreign automaker last year, surpassing Germany’s Volkswagen AG, after seeing its sales grow 35.2 percent to 665,390 vehicles, according to company figures released yesterday.

South Korea’s Hyundai and Japan’s Honda also reported strong growth, while Volkswagen, the former market leader, saw its sales decline in 2005.

GM, which is looking to growth in China to make up for its shrinking market share in the United States, said sales were driven by the continuing popularity of its Buick brand, led by the Excelle sedan and hatchback. It sold 105,000 of the models through September, according to the China Auto Industry Association, although GM gave no figures for the entire year.

Sales of the Buick GL8 luxury passenger van also recorded steady growth, while newly introduced Chevrolet and Cadillac models also did well.

The sales growth gives GM, the world’s largest automaker, about 11.2 percent of the Chinese market, up from 9.4 percent in 2003, the company said.

Nearly all GM cars sold in China are made domestically.

The company has opened a second plant in Shanghai last year and added three new Chevrolet models in 2005, the Sail compact car, Epica intermediate sedan and Aveo hatchback. That pushed sales in China for the brand past the 100,000 mark for the first time, establishing China as Chevrolet’s fourth-largest global market.

“We have no intention of letting up on the accelerator,” said Kevin Wale, president and managing director of the GM China Group.

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