China continues pace to become world's largest auto market

After a record third quarter spurred by government stimulus and a rebounding economy, China surged towards annualized sales surpassing 11 million vehicles. Should China continue at this pace as expected, it will unseat the American auto market as the world's largest for the first time on an annualized basis. China displaced the U.S. market as the world's largest car market on a monthly basis in January 2009.

Strong performers in the China market include its largest automaker, SAIC Motor Corp., which enjoyed a 47 percent increase for the first three quarters compared to a year ago. Another top performer in the China market was Volkswagon AG, which has sold 1.06 million vehicles in the first nine months, compared to only 1.02 million for the entire year of 2008.

General Motors, which is the largest overseas automaker in China, enjoyed healthy gains by more than doubling their monthly sales figure for September with 181,148 vehicles sold. GM continues to enjoy strong sales from the Buick brand, led by the Excelle and Regal models which had begun the year with a slow start when compared to their VW and Toyota counter-parts. GM expects its China sales to continue to outpace the overall market through 2010.

Not to be outdone, Ford posted record sales increases for the third quarter with a 79 percent jump, compared to 2008. The sales increase is partly due to the addition of the Ford Fiesta, as well as the increasing popularity of the Focus sedan which surged 72 percent to an all-time monthly record of 13,891 units for September. Ford also saw gains through its part ownership of Jiangling Motors Corp., a commercial vehicle maker which sold 82,718 units through the first three quarters. Commercial vehicle sales were driven in part by the strong sales figures of the Ford Transit models, totaling 23,520 vehicles year to date.