GM sells more vehicles in China than in U.S. in Sept image

General Motors and its local joint ventures sold a record 181,148 vehicles in China in September, compared to 156,673 cars and trucks GM sold in the United States in the month, media reported. China may become the No. 1 market for GM.

In the first nine months, GM sold more than 1.29 million vehicles in China, up 55.6% from a year earlier. Sales in GM’s home market in the same Jan-Sept period dropped 36.3% to 1.53 million cars and trucks. If sales of Hummer, Pontiac, Saab and Saturn brands, which GM is discontinuing, its U.S. sales were 1.3 million in September, just slightly more than the automaker’s China sales.

Shanghai GM, a passenger car venture, sold 480,202 vehicles in the first nine months, up 40.4%, with September sales reaching a record 71,566 units. Commercial vehicle tie-up SAIC-GM-Wuling sold 100,635 vehicles last month and sales in Jan-Sept rose 64.5% to 801,869 units.

China’s auto market, which overtook the U.S. as the world’s largest in January, has been a leading bright spot in the struggling global auto industry as government stimulus measures spurred a pick-up in demand. China is set to become the biggest market for GM vehicles.

GM’s sales in China may grow more than 40% to exceed 1.6 million vehicles for the full year of 2009, said Kevin Wale, president for GM China. He said first-time car buyers in China’s smaller cities were a major driving force behind surging sales.

GM plans to roll out 30 new or revamped models in China from 2009 to 2014, including 10 Buick and Chevrolet models due for launch this year and next, and expects its China sales to outperform the country’s auto market in 2010.

By George Gao