Our Terms of Service and Privacy Policy have changed.

By continuing to use this site, you are agreeing to the new Privacy Policy and Terms of Service.

GM: We'll sell more in China than the U.S. soon

chart_gm_china_us_sales.top.gifBy Chris Isidore, senior writer


DETROIT (CNNMoney.com) -- Chinese consumers bought more automobiles last year than Americans did for the first time. A top executive at General Motors thinks that it won't be long before it too will sell more cars in China than in its home market.

In fact, Tim Lee, GM's Shanghai-based president of international operations, said at the auto industry's key trade show Tuesday that this day could come sooner rather than later.

"We did very very well," Lee said about the company's sales in China in 2009. "We don't intend to stop with what we've done. We intend to grow."

GM sold about 1.83 million vehicles in China last year and 2.07 million cars and trucks in the U.S. But GM, already the leader in China with 13.4% of the market, is still gaining share. GM's market share was 11.3% in 2008.

By way of comparison, GM has steadily lost market share for several decades in the U.S., falling to 19.9% in 2009.

It would not be unique for GM to sell more cars outside of its home market. Japanese automakers Toyota Motor (TM) and Honda Motor (HMC) both have sold more vehicles in the United States than in Japan for years now. And while U.S. is still GM's single largest market, international sales have topped domestic sales for a number of years.

Even if sales rebound in the U.S. this year, China is still a far more dynamic market for GM to focus on for the long-term. A robust pace of economic growth is creating new drivers and helping to expand the network of roads every day. Then there's the fact that China's population is significantly greater than America's.

Still, for GM to sell more in China than in the United States would be a startling development -- especially considering how far apart sales in the two countries stood only five years ago.

In 2004, GM sold fewer than 500,000 vehicles in China and 4.6 million in the U.S. While Lee wouldn't predict when GM's China sales would beat out sales in the U.S., he said there is a friendly race within the company to see which market winds up on top of GM's total sales. To top of page

Index Last Change % Change
Dow 17,651.26 -99.65 -0.56%
Nasdaq 4,725.64 -37.58 -0.79%
S&P 500 2,051.12 -12.25 -0.59%
Treasuries 1.78 -0.02 -0.89%
Data as of 9:12pm ET
Company Price Change % Change
Bank of America Corp... 14.13 -0.23 -1.60%
Freeport-McMoRan Inc... 11.80 -0.21 -1.75%
Apple Inc 94.19 -0.99 -1.04%
Micron Technology In... 10.00 -0.36 -3.47%
General Electric Co 30.07 -0.56 -1.83%
Data as of 4:01pm ET
Sponsors

Sections

Tesla CEO Elon Musk had said previously that the automaker would become "cash-flow positive" this year. But in a letter to shareholders Wednesday, Musk signaled that won't be the case after all. More

The jobs market is near full employment with 14 million jobs added since early 2010. Gas prices are cheap. Home prices are rising. The stock market is near record highs. So why does everyone think the economy stinks? More

Oakland-based tech startup Clef hosts dinners for the local community in a bid to resist gentrification and unite all types of industries that make up the city. More

Visa says new software will allow consumers to check out with chip cards as fast as swiping a card with magnetic strip. More