Rises in markets outside the US resulted in a total fall of less than 1% as General Motors sold 9.09m vehicles world-wide in 2006, according to preliminary sales figures.

This was the third time (2006, 2005 and 1978) the world's largest automaker has sold more than 9m vehicles in a calendar year. Global sales in 2005 were 9.17m.

John Middlebrook, GM vice president, global sales, service and marketing operations, noted: "In 2006, we saw 18% growth in the Asia/Pacific region, and 17% growth in the Latin America, Africa and Middle East region. We're also seeing improving results in Europe where we sold more than 2m vehicles for the first time."

Global sales of GM's core brand, Chevrolet, were 4.3m vehicles compared with 2005 sales of 4.37m. Chevrolet - which sources most non-US market cars from GM-Daewoo - posted growth in all three regions outside North America, with the strongest performance in the Latin America, Africa and the Middle East region, with an additional 19% (144,000 vehicles) delivered.

Chevrolet also performed well in the Asia/Pacific region, up 19%. There was a 15% increase in Europe. Hummer sales grew nearly 34% globally in 2006, with 82,000 vehicles delivered, compared with 61,000 in 2005.

While much of this growth was in the United States (up 26%), Hummer also saw significant expansion in Mexico and Canada. South African assembly began last year, adding right-hand drive to the mix.

At 4.97m vehicles, 2006 sales outside of the United States accounted for about 55% of GM's total global sales, growing at close to 7% compared with 2005, outpacing the industry average growth rate of 6%. The industry has seen a 10m vehicle increase in the global automotive market in the past five years, and the market now tops 67m. 

In the Asia/Pacific region, GM sales of 1.26m vehicles topped 1m vehicles for the second consecutive year, and GM China saw more than 32% sales growth compared with 2005, outpacing the country's industry growth rate of 26%. GM was the top-selling automaker in China in 2006, with 877,000 vehicles sold. For the first time, GM sold more Buicks in China (304,000) than in the United States (241,000).

In the Latin America, Africa and Middle East region, GM sales reached an all-time record 1.03m vehicles, exceeding 1m vehicles for the first time, up 17% in volume compared with 2005. Truck sales were up 21% and car sales were up 16%. GM saw volume increases in 10 of 11 major Latin America, Africa and Middle East markets in 2006. GM do Brazil set an all-time domestic sales record with 410,000 vehicles delivered.

In Europe, GM sales - for the first time - exceeded 2m vehicles, up about 1%. Growth in Eastern Europe, up 59%, led the increase.