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

Frontline troops push for solar energy
The U.S. Marines are testing renewable energy technologies like solar to reduce costs and casualties associated with fossil fuels. Play
25 Best Places to find rich singles
Looking for Mr. or Ms. Moneybags? Hunt down the perfect mate in these wealthy cities, which are brimming with unattached professionals. More
Fun festivals: Twins to mustard to pirates!
You'll see double in Twinsburg, Ohio, and Ketchup lovers should beware in Middleton, WI. Here's some of the best and strangest town festivals. Play
Index Last Change % Change
Dow 17,042.90 -28.32 -0.17%
Nasdaq 4,493.39 -12.46 -0.28%
S&P 500 1,972.29 -5.51 -0.28%
Treasuries 2.51 0.02 0.68%
Data as of 12:39am ET
Company Price Change % Change
Ford Motor Co 14.79 -0.32 -2.12%
Bank of America Corp... 17.05 0.04 0.24%
eBay Inc 56.63 3.97 7.54%
Apple Inc 100.75 0.64 0.64%
General Electric Co 25.62 0.20 0.79%
Data as of Sep 30

Sections

CNNMoney's Italian-American investing correspondents did a taste test of Olive Garden's food. They agree with hedge fund Starboard: It's not very appetizing. More

Even limited air operations could cost up to $4 billion a year, says a think tank, while large ground forces could cost $1.8 billion a month. More

Pro-democracy protesters in Hong Kong are using FireChat to improve communication and organize. More

On Wednesday, 17% of First Green Bank's 66 employees will get a raise under the company's new "living wage" program. The guarantee: At least about $30,000 a year. More

This mom of four only makes $29,000 a year and is losing $400 a month because the state is garnishing her paycheck over a debt. Now she is about to be evicted from her apartment. More

Market indexes are shown in real time, except for the DJIA, which is delayed by two minutes. All times are ET. Disclaimer Morningstar: © 2014 Morningstar, Inc. All Rights Reserved. Disclaimer The Dow Jones IndexesSM are proprietary to and distributed by Dow Jones & Company, Inc. and have been licensed for use. All content of the Dow Jones IndexesSM © 2014 is proprietary to Dow Jones & Company, Inc. Chicago Mercantile Association. The market data is the property of Chicago Mercantile Exchange Inc. and its licensors. All rights reserved. FactSet Research Systems Inc. 2014. All rights reserved. Most stock quote data provided by BATS.