GM 's 2006 Global Vehicle Sales Fall One Percent

Automaker says last year marked just third time in history its sales topped 9 million vehicles.

General Motors said Wednesday it sold 9.09 million cars and trucks around the world in 2006, down one percent from a year earlier.

While the automaker said 2006 marked just the third time it has sold more than 9 million vehicles (2005 and 1978 were the others), the decrease from 2005 was the result of planned cuts of 75,000 vehicles in daily rental fleet sales in the U.S. and offsetting growth in other global markets.

The company said it saw 18 percent growth in the Asia/Pacific region, and 17 percent growth in Latin America, Africa and the Middle East region. GM said it's seeing improved results in Europe, where it sold more than two million vehicles for the first time in 2006, and said the expansion of its four global brands – Chevrolet, HUMMER, Saab and Cadillac – "is showing concrete signs of success."

Sales of Chevrolet were 4.3 million vehicles, compared with 2005 sales of 4.37 million. Chevrolet showed growth in all three regions outside North America, with the strongest performance in the Latin America, Africa and the Middle East region. HUMMER sales grew nearly 34 percent globally in 2006, with 82,000 vehicles delivered, compared with 61,000 in 2005.

Saab’s 2006 global sales set a record at more than 133,000 vehicles. Saab had its highest sales volume ever in Europe, exceeding 90,000 vehicles and record sales in Spain, Belgium and Canada.

Cadillac posted a sales increase outside of North America last year, thanks to 22 percent sales growth in Europe.

Meanwhile, GM took the occasion to say that while the media has focused on the global sales races between GM and its competitors, “being the largest car company in the world can’t be a focus, it has to be a by-product of giving people in each market the vehicles they really want. But no one should question our continued resolve to compete head-to-head with every automaker.”