GM clawing back up the sales charts

Automaker forecasts third-straight market share gain and first year-over-year sales increase in 21 months.

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by Peter Valdes-Dapena, senior writer

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NEW YORK ( -- General Motors expects to announce a market share gain for the third month in a row in October, GM executive director of corporate planning Mike DiGiovanni told reporters on Wednesday.

October will also mark the first year-over-year sales gain GM has managed in 21 months, DiGiovanni said. In September, GM's sales were down 47% compared to a year earlier.

"When you look at GM's performance, we're having a really good October," he said.

The automaker expects its vehicle sales will amount to 20% to 21% of all vehicles sold that month, he said. He expects those numbers to be about 3% higher than Toyota's and 4% higher than Ford's, he said.

DiGiovanni credited strong product introductions for the market share rise. Over the past few months, GM has started production on six new or redesigned models: the Chevrolet Camaro performance coupe, Chevrolet Equinox, GMC Terrain and Cadillac SRX small crossover SUVs, Buick LaCrosse luxury sedan and the Cadillac CTS Sportwagon.

Sales of the new 2010 Chevrolet Equinox crossover SUV are strong enough that the automaker is adding a third shift to the Ontario, Canada factory that builds the Equinox and its sister-vehicle the Terrain.

"We've got enough data now that we feel very confident that adding this third shift is the right ting to do, said Susan Docherty, who was recently appointed to head GM's sales efforts.

An overall improvement in auto sales will also help GM's bottom line, DiGiovanni predicted.

The market share rise comes despite the fact that GM has shed four of its former eight brands, DiGiovanni said. Only 5% of GM's October sales came from the four brands that are being shut down, he said, compared to 10% a year ago.

Besides new model introductions, the automaker's "Truck Month" promotion program has also helped boost sales, Docherty said.

GM still has a much larger percentage of 2009 models on its dealer lots, Docherty said, but part of that is a deliberate strategic decision. The automaker wanted to have more 2009 truck to sell as part of its "Truck Month sales drive. To top of page

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