China Auto Sales to Top U.S. This Year for the First Time

Last Updated Sep 4, 2009 1:53 PM EDT

Chinese auto sales are on a pace for China to outsell the United States for a full year for the first time in 2009, and not by just a little.

GM China Group President and Managing Director Kevin Wale said on Sept. 1 that GM now expects total industry sales in China for 2009 of 11.5 million to 12 million, up from 9.1 million in 2008.

Meanwhile, GM said on Sept. 1 it expects total U.S. sales for the whole industry of about 10.5 million, down from 13.2 million in 2008.

GM expects its sales in China to jump more than 40 percent this year. GM has had monthly sales records in China every month since January 2009.

That helps explain why Buick is one of GM's surviving brands, post-bankruptcy. In the United States, Buick is a shadow of its former self, but it's a rising brand in China.

In China, Buick even outsells Chevrolet. In August, Buick sales in China were more than double the year-ago month, at 38,905 units. Chevrolet sales in China were 23,771 for the month, also roughly doubling the year-ago month.

In the United States, Buick sales were only 8,612 in August, down 51.7 percent. Chevrolet sales in the United States were 167,725 for the month.