General Motors Europe (GME) said on Friday it sold over 2m cars in Europe last year. President Carl- Peter Forster said the result was “a success in difficult times”.

Europe sales were 2.04m units for a market share of 9.3%, Chevrolet broke through the 0.5m and Opel set a sales record in central and eastern Europe, with volume up 13%.

The unit’s D-segment Opel/Vauxhall Insignia has won the European Car of the Year 2009 award and 44,000 orders are on the books, the automaker said.

The Chevrolet brand – almost all from GM-Daewoo in Korea grew by close to 11% in a market off 5% overall, selling over 507,000 cars and for a new market share record of 2.3%.

“I consider this a success in difficult times. We’re encouraged with our sales performance as we are facing an unprecedented set of economic challenges due to the global economic crisis,” said Forster.

“Our decision to keep a strong focus on quality and our growth strategy for central and eastern Europe continue on track.”

New products launching this year included the Insignia and Chevrolet Cruze and GME would “keep managing our production and costs as tightly as possible.”

Opel/Vauxhall sold around 1,459,000 vehicles in Europe in 2008, down 10.5% year on year. GM cited financial crisis effects spreading to key western European markets as the main reason.

Nonetheless, Opel grew 41% in eastern Europe, about quadruple the industry rate, selling 257,000 cars. In Russia, the brand’s sales were up 49% to almost 100,000.

Saab sales were down 21.9% to 66,713 cars in Europe last year while Cadillac, which has never met original optimistic projections this side of the Atlantic, was off 5% at 4,556 units, including the Saab-built BLS entry-level model built only for Europe.

Corvette was down 15.3% (1,086) and Hummer off 1.8% to 2,286 units.