General Motors reported third-quarter sales of 2,449,595 vehicles Tuesday, an increase of 2 percent year-over-year and its strongest third quarter since 1980. It was an impressive and unexpected showing, especially when you take into consideration the company’s ongoing recall crisis, but it wasn’t enough to hold off German sales powerhouse Volkswagen Group.
Total GM sales from January through to September stand at 7.37 million cars worldwide. VW narrowly edged out GM after the third-quarter with 7.4 million vehicles sold worldwide, putting it on track to become the world’s second largest automaker by year’s end, behind Toyota.
Toyota has yet to release its sales figures for this year’s third quarter, but it projects full annual sales of around 10.1 million units, up from 9.98 million last year. The Japanese automaker is expected to release its third-quarter results later this month.
The world’s largest automotive market, China, is crucial for both GM and Volkswagen. GM’s impressive third-quarter results are partially the product of a 12 percent rise in sales in China, however it fell behind VW in sales in the country earlier this year and has yet to recuperate. Volkswagen reported sales of 2.72 million units in China through to the end of September. By comparison, GM has sold 2.58 million units during the same time period.
“GM delivered its best third quarter global sales in 34 years thanks to solid growth in the United States and China, and steady improvement in Opel’s market share,” GM CEO Mary Barra said in a statement. “We have launches now underway, including the Chevrolet Colorado and GMC Canyon in North America, the Opel/Vauxhall Corsa in Europe, and the Buick Envision and Cadillac ATS-L in China, that will keep our momentum going.”