It has been a long road for GM but there's definitely much to cheer about these days. Sales in China are the major catalyst of the GM recovery. The U.S. manufacturer sold 1.27 million cars and light trucks in the world's largest auto market during the first half.
GM's fortunes bottomed when it filed for Chapter 11 in mid-2009. Forty days later, it emerged from bankruptcy, aided by U.S. government funds and cleansed of many of its balance sheet obligations. GM still had to rebuild sales which it lost during most of the last decade. It did so with new models, many for the U.S. market. And, it became the top car company in China, often tied with VW for that lead.
VW's move into the No. 2 spot should not be much of a surprise. It is one of the dominant manufacturers in the EU markets. Its position in China is strong. And, it has begun an aggressive push into the U.S., where its market share is currently very small. VW's management's goal is to become the No.1 car company in the world by 2018. Its current trajectory could make that goal a reality.
The wild card in the race for the top spot in global car sales is Toyota's Japan production problems. Once it has all of its capacity back, it can begin a new move to take GM's position.