General Motors Co. (GM:US) outsold Volkswagen AG (VOW) in China for the first time in three quarters, helped by growth in demand for Buick vehicles.
Volkswagen, which unlike GM includes Hong Kong and Macau in its China figures, today reported first-quarter sales in China climbed 21 percent to about 770,000 vehicles. That’s 5.7 percent fewer than the deliveries reported by GM last week.
The results give Detroit-based GM a head start as it seeks to keep its lead -- on an annual basis -- among foreign automakers in China for a ninth straight year. Both companies count China as their biggest market, which is forecast to top 20 million units for the first time this year.
While Volkswagen’s growth for the quarter outpaced the overall Chinese passenger-vehicle market, the group’s 11 percent expansion in March was slower than the industry growth reported by the China Association of Automobile Manufacturers yesterday.
Volkswagen recalled almost 400,000 vehicles in China last month to replace defective gearboxes that could result in loss of power. While the automaker declined to disclose how much that would cost them, research firm LMC Automotive estimates replacements could cost between 3,000 yuan ($485) to 10,000 yuan per vehicle, which could total over $600 million.
Ford Motor Co. (F:US) saw the fastest growth among major foreign automakers, seeing its deliveries surging 54 percent to more than 186,000 vehicles. That indicates Ford outsold Toyota Motor Corp. (7203) in China for the first time, based on quarterly company figures stretching back to 2011.
Toyota, Nissan Motor Co. and Honda Motor Co. (7267) all saw declines in the quarter as they struggled to fully recover from the anti-Japan protests that flared last September.
South Korea’s Hyundai Motor Co. (005380) last week reported China sales rose 41 percent to a record 260,716 units.
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