GM Narrows Sales Gap With Toyota, Plans 2010 Stock Offering

Joshua Duval
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General Motors significantly narrowed the gap in sales between itself and global sales leader Toyota to just 11,000 units in the first half of the year, reporting a lower drop than its Japanese rival.

Toyota sold about 3.56 million units in the first six months of 2009, a drop of 26 percent, followed closely by GM, which sold 3.55 million vehicles and reported a drop of almost 22 percent.

GM's first-half sales included figures from its four defunct or for-sale brands, Hummer, Pontiac, Saab, and Saturn, as well as its SAIC-GM-Wuling (SGMW) joint-venture. GM owns 30 percent of SGMC; SAIC owns 50.1 percent; and Wuling owns the remainder. Toyota overtook GM as the world sales leader in 2007 or 2008, depending on whether or not sales of SGMC are included in GM's figures.

Volkswagen also managed to close a gap of about 1 million units with Toyota, checking in with 3.1 million units and reporting a sales decline of just5 percent. Ford posted the biggest sales drop in the first half of any of the top10 automakers, with a decline of 30 percent to 2.14 million units, just behind Hyundai-Kia's 2.15 million units.

GM also announced on Friday that it plans to start selling shares in "New GM" as soon as next year. In a filing with the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission, the company said it will sell the shares at an initial public offering to be scheduled before the one-year anniversary of its emergence from bankruptcy onJuly 10.

Separately, the head of President Obama's auto task force, Ron Bloom, and GM Chairman Ed Whitacre said GM was on track for an IPO as early as 2010.

Sources: Automotive News, Reuters

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