Shanghai, China (4E) – Volkswagen AG beat General Motors Co. in China — the world’s biggest car market — for the first time in nine years to regain the lead among foreign automakers in the country.
Volkswagen’s two joint ventures reported 235,700 vehicles sold in China in December, putting the German auto maker’s sales in that country to over 3.19 million units in 2013, according to the government-backed China Association of Automobile Manufacturers report released Thursday. Sales of VW did not include data for December imports, which are due early next week.
Surpassing GM in China brings VW closer to its target of becoming the world’s biggest carmaker by 2018. Both GM and VW have announced plans to invest with a combined amount of $36bn in China amid increasing competition from foreign rivals Toyota Motor Corp. and Hyundai Motor Co.
VW sales benefited from its introduction of a more-diversified lineup of vehicles, particularly premium brands. In China, Audi has gained wide recognition as a car of choice among first-time premium car buyers.
Despite already being the world’s largest auto market, China still has a lot of room to grow as the number of vehicles on its roads only make up just around 6 percent of the population, against 80 percent in the U.S., according to Bloomberg News data.