General Motors Co. sold 9.03 million vehicles worldwide last year, the company said on its Web site. The results probably secure the automaker’s place as the world’s largest by unit sales two years after emerging from bankruptcy.
Deliveries rose 7.6 percent from 8.39 million in 2010 and topped Volkswagen AG’s 8.16 million by 11 percent. Toyota Motor Corp., which took the sales crown from GM in 2008, hasn’t reported full-year results. Through three quarters, Toyota deliveries fell 8.8 percent to 5.77 million, as production was limited by natural disasters in Japan and Thailand.
While GM CEO Dan Akerson has said that he places a higher priority on profit margins than on global unit volumes, the sales leadership gives the company a boost, Dennis Virag, president of Automotive Consulting Group, said today in a telephone interview.
“It’s bragging rights,” said Virag. “Hopefully, that will have some impact on their share price.”
“More important than finishing the year with the most units sold is how it was accomplished,” Kevin Tynan, senior automotive analyst for Bloomberg LP, said in an e-mail. “There were many years in the recent past on which GM won the sales title but operated unprofitably.”
Harry Wilson, a former member of the Obama administration’s Auto Task Force, which oversaw GM’s $50 billion bailout, has said the group didn’t see GM retaking Toyota this soon after its June 1, 2009, bankruptcy filing.
GM’s Chevrolet brand, aided by the Cruze compact car, helped drive the automaker’s growth in 2011. Chevy had worldwide sales of 4.76 million cars and trucks last year.
The automaker’s two largest markets finished with nearly identical totals. GM saw sales rise 8.3 percent in China to 2.55 million, including sales with its joint-venture partners, while deliveries rose 13 percent in the U.S. to 2.5 million.
Toyota has estimated that 2011 calendar year sales will decrease 6 percent to 7.9 million. As Toyota production returns this year, GM will face increased competition for the No 1. spot.