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GM and Ford sales leap in China
General Motors Corp. and Ford Motor Co. said today their sales in China’s booming car market jumped last year, a boost for automakers that have seen demand slump in North America.

General Motors, the country’s No. 1 automaker, said it sold 876,747 vehicles in China last year, up 32% from 2005. It said sales of its flagship Buick brand grew by 24.9% to 304,230 units. Vehicle sales continued to outpace most projections as a result of unprecedented consumer demand for passenger cars,” Kevin Wale, president of GM China, said in a statement.

Ford said sales of its brands — which include Ford, Lincoln, Jaguar, Land Rover and Volvo — rose 87% to 166,722 units. Sales of Ford-brand vehicles were up 89.3% at 155,404.

Foreign automakers are competing aggressively in China, where sales are
expanding at double-digit annual rates and major U.S., European and Asian producers have set up factories.

Vehicle sales this year are expected to rise by 15 percent to 8 million, up from an estimated 7 million in 2006, according to the China Association of Automobile Manufacturers, an industry group.

With about four times the population of the U.S., China would have about half the vehicle sales next year.

GM says China is its biggest single national market outside the United States. It overtook Germany’s Volkswagen AG as China’s No. 1 automaker in 2005 and now has an estimated market share of 11.8 percent. More at Detroit Free Press

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