General Motors may be in danger of running out of gas in its own backyard but not, it seems, in the People's Republic of China where in 2005 sales rose by 35.2%.

China, now the globe's third largest automotive market, bought 665,390 vehicles last year from the struggling giant - and prospecvts for 2006 look to be even better with overall auto sales in the people's paradise projected to increase by between ten and fifteen percent.

Whoops Kevin Wale, president and managing director of GM China: "GM's sales once again outpaced the industry as a whole in 2005 despite increasing competition. [We] benefited from an unprecedented number of new and upgraded product introductions as well as a growing portfolio of brands."

  • Meantime, back at the ranch, GM on Wednesday reported another dive in US sales and market share during December, and for the year overall. Conversely, Japanese rivals Toyota, Honda and Nissan notched a record year.

    Researcher Autodata estimates that GM's December sales were 10% down year-on-year, bringing its annual decline to 4.3% . Market share for the year slipped to 26%, down from 27.3% in 2004.

    Seasonal merriment was equally conspicuous by its absence at Ford Motor Company, whose share of the US domestic market edged downward from 18.3% to 17.4% in December, while annual sales plunged 4.9% .

  • At Renault, seasonal 'ho-ho-hos' were in evidence, albeit mutedly, as the French-headquartered automaker reported a 1.7% rise in 2005 worldwide vehicle sales totaling 2.53 million units. A weak performance across most of Europe was countered by sparkling international sales.

    Renault predicts that volume sales in 2006 will remain flat in Central and Western Europe, while unit sales elsewhere in the world will rise - fuelled both by sales of the new Clio subcompact and organic growth in international markets.

    In 2005 the carmaker's sales in Central and Western Europe fell 4.1% to 1.84 million units, whereas those in Eastern Europe and overseas rose by 21% to 688,152 units.

    European markets are expected to remain fiercely competitive this year, with automakers discounting heavily and vying to offer free equipment and cheap financing.

    Data sourced from Wall Street Journal Online Financial Times Online; additional content by WARC staff