DETROIT (Bloomberg) -- General Motors Co. said worldwide sales rose 3.6 percent during the first quarter compared with last year, keeping its lead over Volkswagen AG by about 90,000 vehicles.
Increased Chevrolet sales in the U.S. and Buick demand in China helped GM deliver 2.36 million cars and trucks in the first three months of 2013, the company said today in an e-mailed statement. VW global sales during the period rose 5.1 percent to 2.27 million, according to an April 12 statement. Toyota Motor Corp. hasn’t reported first-quarter sales yet.
“Chevrolet is growing around the world by leveraging GM’s global engineering and design expertise to deliver the right products in the right markets,” Mark Reuss, president of GM’s North American operations, said in the statement.
GM faces increased pressure to maintain its standing as the world’s second-best selling automaker ahead of VW. Toyota retook the lead position from GM last year as it recovered from natural disasters in Asia in 2011.
Volkswagen reported a 5.9 percent sales decline in Europe that was offset by gains in the U.S. and China. The company, with brands including Audi and Porsche, said its U.S. sales rose 15 percent to 142,800 and China deliveries increased 21 percent to 633,900.
GM CEO Dan Akerson is pushing to refocus the automaker’s efforts around two global brands, Chevrolet and Cadillac, as the company competes with VW and Toyota for worldwide scale.
Toyota, which introduced 19 new or refreshed vehicles in the U.S. last year, regained the sales lead from GM in 2012, selling 9.75 million vehicles. GM sold 9.29 million vehicles last year, more than half in its two largest markets: 2.6 million in the U.S. and 2.84 million in China.
The U.S. automaker finished No. 2 last year, outselling VW by more than 200,000 vehicle sales. VW aims to become the world’s biggest by 2018.
GM’s first-quarter sales in the U.S. rose 9.3 percent to 664,963 and GM in China gained 9.6 percent to 816,373, the company previously said. China sales include deliveries with its joint-venture partners.
As head of GM’s North American operations, Reuss is overseeing GM’s effort to bring out about 20 new vehicles in the U.S. this year to help rebound from an 88-year-low share in its home market last year. The Impala full-sized sedan is arriving in showrooms this month and will be followed by a redesigned Silverado pickup.
The company’s revamped Corvette has also been garnering attention after its January reveal in Detroit.
An early review by Motor Trend in its March 2013 issue said the new Corvette “has it where it counts,” noting that “the radical new bodywork is jet-inspired and race-tested” while the interior has been improved with a cabin that’s been “bathed in soft-touch materials.”
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