Why U.S. heavyweights are losing share to VW, Hyundai, others

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July U.S. auto sales look like a simple story: Toyota and Honda recapture market share that they lost to General Motors and Ford a year ago when their post-earthquake stocks were depleted.

But that masks a longer trend in the U.S. light-vehicle sales arena. Since July 2010, GM, Ford and Japan's Big 2 have lost a combined 4.6 points of market share. Most of that lost share was snapped up by Volkswagen, Chrysler, Hyundai-Kia and Nissan.

And nobody is growing faster than Volkswagen Group of America.

Since setting a decade-long drive toward 1 million U.S. sales VW and Audi vehicles by 2018, the German automaker has opened a U.S. plant, expanded its Mexican plant and picked a Mexican site for a future Audi plant. Not only has the group's U.S. market share jumped to 3.8 percent so far this year from 2.6 percent in 2008, its seven-month volume already exceeds the 2008 calendar year total.

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You can reach Jesse Snyder at jsnyder@crain.com.

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