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VW Revs Up Profits and Pressure on GM
CNBC.com | March 12, 2012 | 12:35 PM EDT

As annual profits go, Volkswagen hit it out of the park.

In fact, the record profit the German automaker announcedat its annual meeting on Monday will have a lot of people wondering why it made nearly triple the amount of money GM did last year.

Overall, VW posted a net profit of $20.1 billion dollars with annual revenue surging 26% to $207.1 billion. Yes, some of the VW profit was helped by a revaluation gain on the options it holds to buy a remaining 50.1% of Porsche. Still, the staggering 58% jump in operating profits shows just how successful last year was for VW.

Compare those figures with General Motors. GM made $7.6 billion last year. By all accounts, it was a fantastic year for GM, especially coming just two years after bankruptcy. But with VW breathing nipping at the heels of GM to become the world’s largest automaker, it’s worth comparing GM and VW. And for that, one figure stands out. In 2011, VW made approximately $55 million every day while GM made approximately $21 million.

So why the difference?

Both automakers are racking up sizable profits in China. And while GM made the bulk of its money in the U.S., VW continues to struggle here. By comparison, Volkswagen is still profiting in Europe while GM lost $700 million in that continent.

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