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GM Global Auto Sales Skid 5%

North American sales fell 20% while foreign sales grew by 10%.

As a sharp drop in its home market offset strong gains overseas, General Motors on July 22 posted a 5% drop in global sales in the second quarter. The sales decline also left GM trailing Japan's Toyota Motor Corp. in the race for global automotive supremacy.

GM's sales slipped to 2.29 million vehicles in the April through June period after North American sales fell 20% to 963,929, while sales outside the region grew by 10% to 1,322,765. GM said it was still "on track" to sell more than nine million vehicles this year as sales for the first six months reached 4.54 million vehicles, a 3% decline from the same period of 2007. Toyota said last week it had sold 4.8 million units worldwide this year through June 30.

GM said its sales in the Asia-Pacific region grew 15% to 386,980 vehicles.

Sales in Latin America, Africa and the Middle East rose 18% to 346,085 vehicles, powered by Chevrolet, which accounted for nearly 90% of vehicle sales in the region.

European sales rose 2.5% to 589,700 vehicles. But Jonathan Browing, GM's vice president of global sales, service and marketing, said that most of the growth in Europe was concentrated in the former Soviet bloc in eastern Europe.

"Our global sales performance during the second quarter was fueled by Chevrolet globally and Wuling and GM Daewoo regionally," Browning said.

Mike DiGiovanni, GM's executive director of market and sales analysis, said GM sales in the key emerging markets increased by double digits: 34% in Russia, 29% in Brazil and 13% in China.

Overall, GM expects auto sales globally to increase by 2.5% or 1.7 million units but most of the growth will be concentrated in the emerging market, while sales in the U.S., Japan and western Europe, which account for half of all new vehicles sales globally, will sink by about 7%.

Copyright Agence France-Presse, 2008

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