Iraq boosts GM vehicle sales in Middle East

A growing market in Iraq has helped GM's sales rise as Chevrolets, Cadillacs and GMC vehicles sell well in the Middle East.

Sales of Cadillacs across the Middle East are helping to boost a good fourth quarter for GM Motors. AFP PHOTO/Stan HONDA   *** Local Caption *** 030060-01-08.jpg
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General Motors's sales in the Middle East rose 26 per cent in the fourth quarter, compared with the year prior, helped by big gains in Iraq, it announced today (WED).

The carmaker sold 123,258 vehicles in the Middle East in 2010, up 5.5 per cent from the previous year, it announced today.

But sales picked up pace in the final quarter, with 38,450 Chevrolet, Cadillac and GMC vehicles sold across the region, up 26 per cent from the same period in 2009.

Its fastest growing market last year was Iraq, due to increased political stability in the country, said a GM spokesman.

Sales in Iraq in 2010 rose 52 per cent, year on year. But in the fourth-quarter, GM's sales in Iraq rose by 112 per cent compared to the same period one year earlier.

"It's mainly the stability... in 2007 we started seeing the country becoming more and more stable, and sales have been picking up," said the GM spokesman. "There is a correlation between the two."

Saudi Arabia continued to be GM's biggest regional market, by sales, due in part to its relatively large population. Sales in the Kingdom rose by 7 per cent year on year, and 28 per cent in the fourth quarter, compared to the same timeframe in 2009.

Sales in Kuwait and the UAE, the other two large markets for GM in the Middle East, remained flat compared to 2009, the spokesman said.

Cadillac was GM's fastest growing brand in the Middle East, with sales up 26 per cent year on year. Chevrolet sales were up 9.2 per cent year on year, due in part to new models including the Cruze and Malibu. GMC remained flat over the year.

These results come after a difficult period for General Motors, which went through the second-largest bankruptcy in history. It filed for Chapter 11 in 2009, and later received a nearly US$50 billion government bailout money. Later that year, GM sold off its iconic 4X4 brand Hummer to Sichuan Tengzhong Heavy Industrial Machinery, a Chinese equipment maker.

GM later emerged from bankruptcy in July 2009. In November this year, it launched a public offering of its stock on the New York Stock Exchange, raising more than $20 billion.