General Motors announced today that it sold 9,369,524 vehicles worldwide in 2007, which puts it in a dead heat with Toyota for the title of world's best-selling automaker. Toyota had already revealed that it sold 9.37 million vehicles last year, but did not reveal its global sales figure down to the last car. Because of this, no one knows if the Japanese automaker rounded up and actually sold less units globally than GM.

GM should be pleased that its global sales rose 3% in 2007, and whether or not it beat Toyota is of little consequence. There is no international organization that officially recognizes the world's biggest automaker with a trophy and a tag line for commercials, so who cares? The only thing at risk is pride, perhaps some moral and the tradition of GM being the world's biggest automaker for the past 76 years - all things that are either recoverable or not absolutely essential to the business of selling cars.

Both automakers did extremely well last year, though General Motors relied on Europe, China and emerging markets like Latin America, Africa and the Middle East to carry the load since its turnaround plan in the U.S. has yet to yield any sales growth. Toyota, meanwhile, performed well in pretty much every market in which it competed, including the U.S. where its sales grew by 2.7% in a very tough year.

Same time, same place next year? We'll see you then.

UPDATE: Automotive News reports that Toyota is expected to release a more detailed figure for its 2007 global sales later this month, so it looks like we may have a clear winner after all.

[Source: General Motors, mlive.com]


PRESS RELEASE:

For Third Consecutive Year, GM Sells More Than 9 Million Vehicles Globally

  • First Global Automaker To Sell More Than 1 Million Vehicles in China; Growth in China Fuels Asia Pacific Region to Record Sales
  • Record Sales In Europe and Latin America, Africa and Middle East Regions
  • Sales Leadership Shown in Emerging Markets; Russia Up 95 Percent

DETROIT - General Motors sold 9,369,524 cars and trucks around the world in 2007, an increase of 3 percent, according to preliminary sales figures released today. In the fourth quarter, GM sold 2,305,752 vehicles, an increase of 4.8 percent compared with a year ago.

"We set a record in China with more than a million vehicles sold. We nearly doubled our sales in Russia to an all-time record of more than 258,000 vehicles delivered. And we set a record in Brazil with nearly a half-million vehicles sold," John Middlebrook, GM vice president, Global Sales, Service and Marketing Operations said today. "This is the kind of emerging market growth that fuels our global performance. Customers are responding to our fuel-efficient and dynamically-designed product lineup around the world."

The 2007 tally was the second best global sales total in the company's 100-year history and marked the third consecutive and fourth time (2007, 2006, 2005 and 1978) GM sold more than 9 million vehicles in a calendar year.

GM's global position - especially the emerging markets - built sales momentum.

Global sales of GM's top-selling brand, Chevrolet, grew more than 4 percent to 4.49 million vehicles compared with 2006 sales of 4.30 million. Chevrolet grew in all three regions outside North America, with the strongest performance in Europe with a nearly 34 percent increase compared with 2006. The Latin America, Africa and Middle East region saw strong Chevrolet growth with an additional 23 percent (208,000 vehicles) delivered over the 2006 level. Chevrolet also performed well in the Asia Pacific region, which was up 22 percent. The Aveo helped Chevrolet field a strong competitor in the very competitive global car market.

GM also retains its strong truck portfolio, evidenced by 3.80 million truck sales around the world, an increase of more than 33,000 vehicles (1 percent) compared with 2006. Chevrolet sold more than 1.96 million trucks globally last year. GMC global sales grew nearly 6 percent in 2007, with 613,000 vehicles delivered, compared with 579,000 in 2006. Wuling sales in the Asia Pacific region also fueled significant truck, mini-truck, and mini-van performance with 516,000 vehicles sold, a 24 percent increase over 2006. GM increased full-size pickup truck market share in the U.S. in 2007 by 0.2 ppts to 40.2 percent.

Cadillac saw global growth with sales increases outside of North America last year, thanks to a 45 percent increase in the Europe, a 42 percent climb in the Latin America, Africa and Middle East region, and an impressive 106 percent hike in the Asia Pacific region.

Saab saw annual sales increases of 13 percent in the Latin America, Africa and Middle East region, and 5 percent in Asia Pacific. In Europe, Saab maintained its market share position (0.4 percent), and with the extension of BioPower to its 9-3 model range, continues to be the leading brand for E-85 vehicles in Europe.

Global sales highlights include:

  • GM sold 9.37 million vehicles in 2007, an increase of 3 percent. In the quarter, sales of 2.31 million vehicles were up 4.8 percent. At 5.50 million vehicles, 2007 sales outside of the United States accounted for about 59 percent of GM's total global sales, outpacing the industry average growth rate. The industry has seen significant volume increases in the global automotive market in the past five years, and the market now nears 71 million. In 2007, GM's top three brands in sales volume were Chevrolet (4.49 million, up 4 percent), Opel/Vauxhall (1.69 million vehicles, up 4 percent) and GMC (613,000, up 6 percent).
  • In the Asia Pacific region, GM sales of 1.43 million vehicles topped 1 million vehicles for the third consecutive year, and GM China saw more than 18 percent sales growth compared with 2006. The company had regional Q4 sales of 382,000 vehicles, up nearly 17 percent, exceeding the industry average growth rate. GM was the top-selling global automaker in China in 2007, with 1.03 million vehicles sold - becoming the first global automaker to exceed 1 million vehicle sales. Sales in India also set records with an annual volume growth of 74 percent, driven by the recent launch of the Chevrolet Spark and strong performances by the Chevrolet Tavera, Aveo and Optra.
  • In the Latin America, Africa and Middle East region, GM sales reached an all-time record 1.23 million vehicles, exceeding 1 million vehicles for the second time, up 19 percent in volume compared with 2006. For the quarter, 341,000 vehicles were sold, up 18 percent. GM saw volume increases in most major Latin America, Africa and Middle East markets in 2007. GM Brazil set an all-time domestic sales record with 499,000 vehicles delivered. The Chevrolet Corsa, Aveo and Celta were the three top sellers across the region in 2007.
  • In Europe, GM's record sales - for the second year - exceeded 2.18 million vehicles, up about 9 percent. Sales for the quarter of 529,000 vehicles were up 11 percent, exceeding the industry average. Full-year sales in Russia set an all-time record for the company by nearly doubling, up 95 percent. Sales volume in Russia exceeded a quarter million vehicles. Opel/Vauxhall, Chevrolet and Cadillac reported sales growth in Europe. Strong performance by the new Corsa, Astra, Meriva and Zafira led Opel/Vauxhall sales to more than 4 percent growth. Chevrolet achieved record sales of 458,000 vehicles, up nearly 34 percent. Cadillac sales were up 45 percent. Saab sold nearly 85,000 vehicles.
Several of GM's regional brands also experienced notable growth in 2007.

Saturn sales in North America were up 8 percent compared with 2006, largely on the popularity of the new 2007 AURA, AURA Hybrid, SKY, OUTLOOK, VUE, and VUE Green Line Hybrid.

GM Holden sold 158,000 vehicles in 2007 as the Commodore remained Australia's best-selling car for the 12th consecutive year. Holden held its second-place position in the country's automotive market. 2008 marks Holden's 60th anniversary producing Australia's first locally-developed vehicle.

Note: Global sales results are based on preliminary numbers reported.

General Motors Corp. (NYSE: GM), the world's largest automaker, has been the annual global industry sales leader for 76 years. Founded in 1908, GM today employs about 274,000 people around the world. With global headquarters in Detroit, GM manufactures its cars and trucks in 35 countries. In 2006, nearly 9.1 million GM cars and trucks were sold globally under the following brands: Buick, Cadillac, Chevrolet, GMC, GM Daewoo, Holden, HUMMER, Opel, Pontiac, Saab, Saturn, Vauxhall and Wuling. GM's OnStar subsidiary is the industry leader in vehicle safety, security and information services. More information on GM can be found at www.gm.com.

Note: GM sales and production results are available on GM Media OnLine at http://media.gm.com/us/gm/en/ by clicking on News, then Sales/Production. In this press release and related comments by General Motors management, we use words like "expect," "anticipate," "estimate," "forecast," "objective," "plan," "goal" and similar expressions to identify forward-looking statements, representing our current judgment about possible future events. We believe these judgments are reasonable, but actual results may differ materially due to a variety of important factors. Among other items, such factors might include: the pace of introductions and market acceptance of new products; the effect of competition on our markets and significant changes in the competitive environment; price increases or shortages of fuel; and changes in laws, regulations or tax rates. GM's most recent annual report on Form 10-K and quarterly report on Form 10-Q provide information about these factors, which may be revised or supplemented in future reports to the SEC on Form 10-Q or 8-K.