Lutz Predicts Significant Increase in GM’s Market Share in 2010

In an interview with Reuters at last month’s National Automobile Dealers Association convention and expo in Orlando, Florida General Motors Company’s vice chairman, Bob Lutz, said the company’s new models, not Toyota’s shrinking market share, are leading the company to higher sales.

Lutz said GM expects its 2010 market share to be definitely higher than the 19.9% the company achieved last year.

Regarding Toyota’s ongoing recall troubles, Lutz told Reuters, “If the competitor’s weakness at some point results in lower sales for them and better sales for everybody else, that’s something that obviously we’ll accept. But as far as we are concerned, it is not a factor. We’re not planning on that. We were going to gain share anyway.”

He also said the company is considering ramping up production of some of its best-selling models including the Buick LaCrosse and Chevrolet Equinox.

For January, GM reported a 14% increase in sales over the same period in 2009 and saw its U.S. market share rise to 20.9%. Total U.S. sales for all automakers increased 6% in January.

Meanwhile, embattled Toyota Motor Sales U.S.A. Incorporated saw its market share plunge to 14.1%, down from 17% for all of 2009, as concern continued to grow over the safety and quality of many of its most popular models.

Lutz said that GM may finally be moving beyond the bad taste last summer’s bankruptcy left in the mouths of many U.S. consumers. “If it can be said with one of our competitors that the positive halo is gone, or fading,” he said, “In our case, the negativism is fading.”

In addition to its widely publicized recalls to repair or replace floor mats and accelerator pedal mechanisms suspected of causing unintentional acceleration problems, Toyota has also recalled the 2010 Prius hybrid to address problems with the vehicles’ braking systems. Ford Motor Company has also recalled some 17,600 2010 Ford Fusion hybrid and Mercury Milan hybrid models to update the computer software that controls the regenerative braking systems in those models.

Lutz told Reuters he does not believe the braking problem now being addressed by Toyota and Ford is an industry-wide issue and added that GM has not encountered problems with the braking systems of any of its hybrid vehicles.

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