DETROIT -- General Motors could become the top-selling automaker in Brazil, above Volkswagen AG, as soon as this year, an executive with the U.S. automaker said Tuesday.
GM has increased its market share in Brazil to 22.9 percent this year, less than half a percentage point behind market leader VW, said Maureen Kempston Darkes, president of GM's Latin America, Africa and Middle East region.
"Our goal is to lead in Brazil," she told reporters at a briefing in Detroit. "There is a chance we would get there this year," she added.
Vehicle sales across the industry in Brazil, which boasts Latin America's largest economy, have begun to recover from a downturn and could grow from about 1.5 million cars and trucks this year to about 1.6 million next year, she said.
"Clearly we're beginning to see growth come back," she said.
Lower interest rates in Brazil would help make vehicles more affordable and spur vehicle sales, she said.
Kempston Darkes said she expects GM's revenues from the Latin America, Africa and Middle East to grow to between $8 billion to $8.5 billion this year, up from $5.4 billion last year.
Through the first nine months this year, GM has turned a profit from continuing operations of $38 million from the region compared with a loss of $219 million over the first nine months of 2003.