GM Scores Big in Europe

July 9, 2008

Take good news where you can get it.

There have been pretty slim pickings for GM to crow about in recent months in the home market, but for a modest upturn in retail passenger car sales driven by give-away incentives.

But while the U.S. market is in near-freefall, things look decidedly better in Europe, where GM is just solidifying a long-anticipated turnaround with an array of new products.

The automaker has stabilized market share for the first six months of the year at 9.5 percent, according to preliminary registration data. First-half sales, however, increased by nearly 3 percent, to 1.16 million vehicles, compared to the first half of 2007.

Driving the growth? Several things. There's the increasing success of the Chevrolet brand - GM's North and South American flagship, it's a recent addition to Europe, where it targets the entry and economy buyer. Year-over-year, Chevy's European sales are up a whopping 28 percent.

Overall, GM sales in Eastern Europe rocketed 58 percent, while they soared 60 percent in Russia, where GM sees some huge growth opportunities.

There's no question that the automaker must turn things around in North America, particularly the United States. Until then, it will continue to burn cash faster than it can rebuild its bank account. But the ongoing improvements in Europe suggest that the automaker's goal of becoming a truly integrated global player is taking root, and with overseas markets now accounting for half of unit sales - with a goal of reaching 75 percent - the United States could play a steadily decreasing role in the future.

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