Volkswagen posted a 21-percent increase in vehicle sales in China in the third quarter of 2012 to 704,991 units. VW’s figures place it ahead of closest rival General Motors Co., which sold 664,765 vehicles in China in the third quarter of the year. This effectively had VW surpass GM in third-quarter sales in China for the first time in eight years. The figures are meaningful especially for VW, as the company is aiming to become the world’s largest carmaker in the next few years. With VW rising as the vehicle top-seller in China, it may well be on its way to dominate the world’s largest auto market, which, according to analysts, will probably exceed those of the United States, Japan and Germany combined three years from now. China is also considered by both carmakers as their largest market.
Harry Chen, an analyst with Guotai Junan Securities Co., told Bloomberg that being No. 1 in China means a lot to the carmakers’ global development. Chen expects VW and GM to go through a period “fighting at close quarters” in China, as they may take turns grabbing the lead. However, market comparisons between VW and GM are not perfect, since VW includes Hong Kong and Macau but excludes trucks in its China sales figures. GM, however, includes trucks but excludes Hong Kong and Macau in its China sales figures. Kevin Wale, GM China's outgoing president, confirmed that the carmaker failed to grab the No. 1 spot in the third quarter of 2012. GM, however, could still come out as the top selling carmaker in China for full year 2012, with just a quarter left.
Having a slim lead of around 77,000 units against VW, GM’s vehicles are still the best-sellers in China. GM’s Buick Excelle and Chevrolet Sail ranked first and second in the list of top-selling vehicles in China for the first nine of months of 2012, according to the China Association of Automobile Manufacturers. VW’s bet, the Jetta is fourth. However, GM only had three vehicles in the top ten best-selling vehicles in China in the first nine months of the year, while VW had five.