FRANKFURT -- Successful new models in a range of brands helped General Motors' European arm post its best September sales in six years, the world's largest carmaker by sales volume said on Monday.
Unit sales in Europe rose 5.7 percent to 194,152 vehicles in September thanks to new products such as the Opel/Vauxhall Zafira minivan, the Chevrolet Matiz small car and the Saab 9-3 SportCombi wagon, its three most important launches this year.
"GM sold over 1,525,000 vehicles in Europe in the first three quarters of 2005, an increase of more than 25,000 or 1.7 percent over the same period last year," GM added in a statement.
Struggling in the U.S. market, GM is counting on Europe to help take up some of the slack but has not made a profit in the region since 1999.
It is in the process of chopping its European workforce by nearly a fifth to sharpen its competitive edge in a cut-throat auto market environment.
Opel did well in its home market of Germany, while Chevrolet was selling briskly in central and eastern Europe.
"September was a great month for us, and over the first three quarters we continue to grow faster than the industry average," said Jonathan Browning, GM Europe's head of sales and marketing.
He added he was encouraged to see full order books for the three key products.
Opel and Vauxhall, GM Europe's biggest volume brands, generated September sales of 155,000 units, up 2.8 percent. That brought nine-month sales to 1,241,800 vehicles, down 10,000 year-on-year and pushing their share down to 7.8 percent from nearly 8 percent.
Swedish premium brand Saab sold 9,700 cars in September, 17 percent more than in September 2004. For the first nine months, Saab sales of 59,800 were just over 1,000 vehicles down on 2004, GM said.
Its Korean-made Chevrolet brand had its best September ever, with its European market share rising to 1.3 percent from 1.1.
Sales of GM's Corvette sports cars topped 1,000 so far this year, more than triple what it sold in Europe all last year.
"With close to 2,000 cars registered in the first three quarters, (luxury brand) Cadillac has already exceeded its 2004 total sales figure, while (off-road brand) Hummer is also on track to exceed last year's sales total of 419," it said.