General Motors Set for World (Auto) Domination

General Motors Co. (NYSE:GM) set to take back the title of world’s top-selling automaker. Its solid sales in the U.S. and China will top Volkswagen and Toyota. GM lost the title to Toyota in 2008 after holding it for seven decades. Global sales numbers won’t be out until later this month, but should end 2011 sales of about 9 million cars and trucks, which is at least 800,000 more than its German and Japanese competition. Earning the title is an accomplishment for GM after nearly going under in 2009, selling only 7.5 million vehicles.

Volkswagen AG reported it sold a record 8.156 million vehicles in 2011, a 14% rise from the previous year. The company expects 2012 to be rough. Toyota suffered from the tsunami and Fukushima nuclear disaster reported sales of 7.9 million vehicles in 2011, while GM sold almost 7 million vehicles worldwide in the first three quarters.

GM new products are far more attractive in past years says Jeff Schuster, senior vice president of forecasting for LMC Automotive, an industry consulting company in Troy, Mich. Some manufacturers have overlooked Toyota somewhat because production was hurt by Japan’s disasters but competition also developed stylish vehicles that are appealing to more customers.  “They’re not pushing their designs as much as others in terms of new looks and feel,” Schuster says of Toyota. “The market has changed.”

Volkswagen’s top sales and marketing executive, Christian Klingler, says that “all the company’s brands have shown increases in difficult conditions on volatile markets” and called the 2011 figures “an outstanding result,” and added that the coming year will be demanding.  “In 2012 the risks are increasing above all on European markets.”

Here’s how the big 3 auto makers are reacting to the news today:

General Motors Corporation (NYSE:GM): GM shares recently traded at $22.85, up $0.01, or 0.04%. They have traded in a 52-week range of $19.00 to $39.43. Volume today was 6,988,939 shares versus a 3-month average volume of 11,835,400 shares. The company’s trailing P/E is 5.00, while trailing earnings are $4.57 per share.

Ford Motor Co. (NYSE:F): F shares recently traded at $11.68, down $0.12, or 1.02%. They have traded in a 52-week range of $9.05 to $18.97. Volume today was 95,023,956 shares versus a 3-month average volume of 57,078,600 shares. The company’s trailing P/E is 7.01, while trailing earnings are $1.67 per share.

Toyota Motor Corp. (NYSE:TM): TM shares recently traded at $68.57, up $0.15, or 0.22%. They have traded in a 52-week range of $60.37 to $93.90. Volume today was 199,100 shares versus a 3-month average volume of 507,649 shares. The company’s trailing P/E is 41.26, while trailing earnings are $1.66 per share.

To contact the reporter on this story: Laurie Danas at staff.writers@wallstcheatsheet.com

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Damien Hoffman at editors@wallstcheatsheet.com