Detroit: General Motors Corp. has lost the top spot in global sales to Japanese rival Toyota Motors with U.S. automaker reporting slight dip in Q1 sales owing to weakness in home market.
GM officials however have refused to concede that they would lose the race for the year after having narrowly held onto their 76-year title of world’s largest automaker by sales by a margin of just a few thousand vehicles in 2007.
GM’s sales dipped Jan ‘08 onwards
GM’s January-through-March sales slipped 0.6% to 2.25 million vehicles while Toyota’s sales hit 2.41 million despite a 4.2% drop in Japanese sales.
It saw strong growth abroad with sales outside North America up 8% with sales records slipping in three of its four regions. Sales outside U.S. now make up a record 64% of GM’s total volume.
Those gains were offset, by a 10.2% drop in U.S. sales under pressure from a slow economy and a long strike at a key supplier in the U.S.
“While the challenges of the U.S. economy continue to put pressure on the automotive industry, we saw nearly 20% growth in Latin America, Africa and Middle East and 6% growth in the Asia Pacific region,” said John Middlebrook, GM vice president for global sales, service and marketing.
GM sales have gone up in China, India, Russia
“We are also very pleased to see 3% growth in Europe, where we established a new sales record with 572,000 vehicles sold.” GM sales rose by 7% in China, 58% in India and 78% in Russia.
Latin America, another key market for GM, appears to have been insulated from the economic difficulties in North America, DiGiovanni said, adding that while inflation is a potential challenge in Asia, growth in China remains very healthy.
Eastern Europe and Russia also promise to be strong markets for GM in the foreseeable future despite the strong competition, DiGiovanni said.