Embattled American carmaker General Motors trailed Japanese rival Toyota in global car sales during the second quarter, hurt by a severe decline in the American market, figures out yesterday revealed.
The Detroit-based automaker said its car sales fell 3 per cent to 4.54m vehicles in the first half as higher sales in Europe, Asia and Latin America failed to offset a 15 per cent decline in the US.
This contrasted with Toyota’s sales, which rose 2.2 per cent to 4.8m vehicles in the first six months of 2008.
The slump in American drivers’ demand for large four-wheel drive vehicles and pickup trucks has hit GM particularly hard as those high margin vehicles historically account for the majority of its sales.
Meanwhile, European carmakers Volkswagen, Peugeot Citroen and Fiat defied gloomy forecasts with better than expected results yesterday, mainly due to cost cutting measures.
Volkswagen, Europe’s biggest and the world’s fourth-largest auto group, said second-quarter operating profit rose 22 per cent to £700m, surpassing market expectations. Smaller rival Peugeot Citroen repeated its 2008 operating margin target of 3.5 per cent, confounding analysts who had expected a trimmed target.
But both companies, and world number two truck maker Volvo, warned of a tougher environment ahead as consumers curb spending and steel prices remain high.
Fiat also confirmed its targets for this year and 2009 after posting a 19.6 per cent rise in quarterly profit to £867m, which also beat forecasts.