Words by Christopher Kho
One would remember that just a few years ago, GM was in deep water and needed to file for bankruptcy protection in 2009 just to survive. But all that has changed after selling 9,025,942 vehicles in 2011, putting GM back as the world's largest automaker - a title it lost in 2007 to Toyota. And helping the company on its way to the top is the Chevrolet Cruze, which sold more than 670,000 examples globally last year and accounting to more than 1.13 million sold since the model was launched in 2009.
GM's subsidiary, Chevrolet, also posted its best global sales record with 4.76 million vehicles sold, driven by the strong performance of cars such as the Spark, Sonic (Aveo), Malibu, Orlando, and Colorado. Topping the bow-tie brand's chart is the U.S. with total vehicle sales reaching 1,775,812 - a 13% increase from 2010 - while China's fast-growing market is catching up with 595,068 units. Other significant year-over-year increases include Vietnam (79%), Russia (49%), Turkey (30%), and Germany (21%).
Currently, GM holds 11.9% of the global vehicle industry (four-tenths more than 2010). And since their bailout in 2009, they have so far repaid US$24.1 billion of the US$49.5 billion it received in federal government aid.
Taking up the No. 2 spot is the Volkswagen Group, which also owns Audi, Lamborghini, and SEAT to name a few. The German company grew by as much as 14.3% last year and recorded 8.2 million sales globally. Former world's largest Toyota, on the other hand, slid down to No. 3 after the devastation caused by the earthquake and tsunami that hit Japan in March 2011. Though they won't publish their official figures just yet, estimates show that they sold 7.9 million vehicles last year, which is a 6% decrease from 2010. But, watch out as the Japanese are set to bounce back this year, targeting to reach a global sale of 8.6 million to regain them second place.