— General Motors edged out fast-growing Volkswagen in
first-quarter sales as both companies try to close the gap
with Toyota for the global world sales crown.
which is scheduled to release first-quarter numbers next
week, dethroned GM to retake the top spot in 2012, a year
in which VW posted record sales and came within 190,000
vehicles of beating GM.
Tuesday that it sold 2.36 million cars and trucks across
the globe from January through March, an increase of 3.6
percent over the first quarter of last year. VW global
sales rose 5 percent to 2.27 million vehicles, but the
company cautioned that markets outside North America and
China, particularly in Europe, "are becoming even
are sagging across Europe because of the debt crisis and a
broad recession. Governments have slashed spending and
unemployment has soared to record levels, as much as 50
percent of young workers in some countries.
including GM and Ford have cut back on operations in
Europe to off-set sales declines.
growth was led by Cadillac, with sales worldwide up 26
percent. Chevrolet, which makes up 73 percent of company
sales, grew just under 1 percent over last year's record
numbers. It was Chevy's 10th straight quarter of record
global sales, the company said.
growth exceeded the 1.5 percent growth in total worldwide
auto sales, according to GM.
Toyota sold 9.7 million cars and trucks worldwide to beat
GM's 9.29 million. VW, riding strong growth in North
America and China, finished a close third, selling a
record 9.1 million vehicles.
analysts say economic trouble in Europe is likely to slow
VW's growth and keep the automaker in third place this
sales also could be hurt in China, where they've been
sagging due to a territorial despite between the two
and Toyota saw higher sales last year, but Toyota's growth
was far greater as it rolled out new versions of popular
models like the Camry. GM executives promised sales growth
this year, especially in the U.S. Both companies say
publicly that they don't care about who wins, but concede
that the crown is an important morale booster for
the top-selling carmaker for more than seven decades
before losing the title to Toyota in 2008. But GM retook
the sales crown in 2011 when Toyota's factories were
slowed by an earthquake and tsunami in Japan. The disaster
left Toyota dealers with few cars to sell. The company has