General Motors sales in Europe in the first quarter of 2007 reached an all-time record of 553,621 units, an increase of 30,354 compared to Q1 2006, the company said on Tuesday.

Market share reached a 10-year record at 9.8%, up 0.4 percentage points from the previous Q1.

"These strong results show our multi-brand strategy is beginning to make an impact, as is an aggressive strategy for growth in eastern and central Europe. Importantly, we are achieving our sales momentum while improving the profitability of our sales, raising contribution margins and generating higher residual values for our customers," said Jonathan Browning, GM Europe vice president for sales, marketing and aftersales.

"Last year was the first time in history we sold over 2m vehicles," Browning added. "At the same time, we improved the quality of our sales and increased margins and revenue. Clearly, we must continue to work on the revenue side and further leverage our multi-brand strategy for growth and profit."

Accounting for 78% of GM's European sales, Opel/Vauxhall sold 428,787 vehicles in the first quarter of 2007, the best sales volume since 2001. Market share was stable at 7.6%. Strong results in Russia and the UK offset significant weakening in the German market.

Sales of the Corsa - fully designed last year - increased 57% compared to Q1 2006. The Meriva was the leading model in the small monocab (small minivan/multi-purpose vehicle) segment and both the larger Zafira and the Meriva led the total monocab segment, GM said.

Chevrolet - mostly GM-Daewoo models sourced from Korea - maintained its sales momentum in Europe, reaching an all-time record in the first quarter, beating last year's first quarter record by 25,076 units, and bringing total sales for the quarter up to 100,526 units. Market share also grew 0.4 point, to 1.8%, another all-time record for the brand.

"The success of the new Captiva [SUV] and the additional diesel versions of the Epica, Lacetti and Nubira are now driving even more customers to Chevrolet," claimed Browning.

Premium brand side Saab sold 22,169 units in Europe, with a market share of 0.4%, while Cadillac, Hummer and Corvette sold 1,699 units, 7% more than in Q1 2006.

GM brands in Russia continued their fast growth rate with sales increasing 128% to 46,546 units in the first quarter of 2007, significantly outpacing the 26% market growth. Market share grew 4.3 points to 9.5%.

Opel and Chevrolet both performed well in Russia and in the central and eastern European markets. Opel sales in Russia were up to 9,380 units, 6,643 more compared to Q1 2006, with market share growing from 0.7 to 1.9%.

Chevrolet Q1 sales in Russia more than doubled compared to Q1 2006. The brand's share in Russia grew from 4.5% to 7.5%, with sales of 36,735 vehicles, accounting for 37% of Chevrolet sales in Europe.