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Car Sales: Europe Ready To Pass U.S. As Number One?

AP

Want further proof we're in a global auto market where the countries outside the U.S. are playing a bigger role? Consider this: there are reports that Europe is on the cusp of passing up the U.S. as #1 in the world for sales. Think about that for a second.

After decades of the U.S. leading the pack, another region could knock us down a peg, and for that, you can thank the Russians. The explosive growth in auto sales (up more than 20 percent) in Russia and the rest of Eastern Europe has given the whole continent a major boost in sales. It's also the reason the Big 3, and other automakers around the world are turning their attention overseas.

GM tried to buy a stake in Russia's largest automaker only to lose out to Renault/Nissan. Does that mean GM is pulling back in that country? No. In fact, it's planning to expand sales of its Chevrolet and Opel brands in that country. Chrysler and Ford are being just as aggressive.

All of this is why those investing in the auto stocks should be excited. The growth in Eastern Europe is real. Sure, it's not being reflected in those stocks because North America remains a money losing mess. But if Europe continues growing as it is, the automakers will cash in even more then they currently do in that region. And yes, they ARE making money there. Which is more than the Big 3 can say about North America. Who says those in first place always win?

Questions? Comments? BehindTheWheel@cnbc.com

Autos