China: Volkswagen keeps its sales lead over General Motors image

While the world’s largest auto market is showing early signs of peaking out, with overall sales in September slowing to a 6.4% increase, the race for the top foreign automakers remains one that would require a photo finish.

After numerous years of holding the undisputed reign over foreign brand sales in China, General Motors reluctantly ceded the No. 1 position to the Volkswagen Group last year – a situation that also allowed the German automaker to pass its US rival to become the second-largest carmaker in the world.

Over the course of the January-September period, VW AG has kept a small but steady sales advantage of around 140,000 units over General Motors. On the other hand, other automakers that had shown spectacular results – such as Ford and Nissan – have lost steam in recent months.

Sales for Volkswagen in China through September increased by 15.2% to 2.72 million autos, turning the country into the Group’s single largest market. Its die hard rival GM and the Chinese joint ventures it has also had a growth of 11.6% from the same period of 2013, enough to reach a total of 2.58 million units.

Both automakers plan to further increase investments in China to hasten research and development, introduce new models tailored for the market and augment their local production capacity.