Yesterday Chevrolet reported its best half-year sales performance in the company’s 100-year history, having delivered a total of 2.35 million vehicles worldwide.

This first-half-of-2011 sales number is 286,499 more vehicles than were sold in the first half of 2010, a 14-percent year-over-year increase.

Several markets among those in the 120 countries in which Chevrolet is doing business experienced first-half-year sales records, including, Argentina, Brazil, Chile, China, Colombia, Denmark, Ecuador, France, South Africa, and Turkey.

The sun never sets on Chevrolet's market.

“Founded in the United States by a Swiss émigré, Chevrolet was created with a global focus,” said Joel Ewanick, GM global chief marketing officer. “One hundred years later, Louis Chevrolet’s roots continue to shape our company, and enable Chevrolet to offer great products and service to customers in more than 120 countries around the world. We will continue to work at bringing new customers to the Chevy family – no matter where they live.”

Chevrolet recorded sales gains for the first half of 2011 in all of its top five markets, which are:

• The United States – sales are up 16 percent following nine consecutive months of year-over-year sales increases.
• Brazil, –sales ticked up 0.4 percent over the best-ever-sales pace set in 2010
• China –sales increased 15 percent to set the brand’s best first-half results ever
• Russia –sales were up 54 percent as the brand continues to be the best-selling global brand in the country
• Canada –sales rose 8 percent, and have more than doubled the pace of industry growth for the past 18 months

Chevrolet said it has “unmatched” sales growth potential in the BRIC countries, particularly Brazil, Russia, and China, as well as India.

The bulk of the heavy lifting, Chevrolet said, has been by the Cruze, Spark mini car, Aveo/Sonic and Orlando MPV.

Chevrolet said globally it sold more than 330,000 Cruzes in the first half of this year, a 132-percent year-over-year increase. The majority of these sales were in China and the U.S. where the Cruze has enjoyed best-selling passenger car status since June. To date, the bow tie brand has sold over 800,000 Cruzes worldwide and expects to reach one million sold before the end of next year.

“The success of the Cruze illustrates what is possible when you listen to your customers,” said Mary Barra, senior vice president, GM Global Product Development. “By offering drivers more than they expected in a compact car, the Cruze has redefined the global segment and is on track to bring a million new customers to Chevrolet. We are applying that same customer-focused approach to all of our global introductions, including Orlando, Colorado, Malibu, Spark, and Aveo/Sonic.”

As for the Spark, Chevrolet sold more than 220,000 worldwide since December 2009 when it was introduced. Just during the first half of 2011, Chevrolet reported more than 100,000 Sparks sold – a 110-percent gain over a year ago.

Hot markets for the Spark? Primarily South Korea, Mexico, and Uzbekistan.

And as for the other volume king, the Aveo, Chevrolet sold more than 150,000 in the first half of 2011. This includes the “all-new Aveo” which you know as the Sonic as it is called here and some other markets.

That car was introduced in South Korea in March, and is now on sale in nearly 30 countries.

Where does that leave the Volt?

Pretty much where you know it is – progressively catching on in spite of naysayers and sideline-sitters.

As reported yesterday, they plan on churning out 60,000 Volts and Amperas next year, and as also reported, GM is working on BEVs, other electric-assist vehicles, and next-generation Voltec models, cautiously trying not to overextend before the market will accept more.

Be that as it may, a couple publications including CNN money ran versions of the same story last week likening the Volt to the new “halo” car just as the iconic Corvette has been.

(L to R) Cruze Z-Spec Concept, Volt Z-Spec Concept, Spark Z-Spec Concept. The Volt has been and will remain a central part of the picture.

It could be said also that GM partially set itself up for this portrayal, as it has called the Volt a “halo” vehicle on several occasions.

At any rate, the story is that people have long gone to ogle a new ‘Vette, and after oohing and aahing, or otherwise wishing or imagining, they leave with a car they feel is more practical like an Impala or Malibu or something.

Similarly, the latest spin on this tale is today people are visiting Chevy dealers to see the new high-tech Volt, and after setting eyes on it, and having what ever impression they might, they leave with an economy car they feel is more practical like a Malibu or Cruze or something.

CNNMoney even found a pollster to verify the theory.

"Most of the dealers we've surveyed use the Volt as a bridge to show other Chevy products," said Art Spinella, president of CNW Research in Bandon, Ore., which specializes in automotive research. "About 80 percent of the people who go see it aren't intenders, they're just going to see what it's like."

GM’s take

After speaking several times with its representatives, we know GM does not intend this to be the way it is indefinitely. Presently, it is still deep in the process of rolling out the Volt to the rest of the U.S. and other markets after an initial seven-state launch of limited production.

It is too early to call, but cynics and pundits have to make their paycheck somehow, so they will say what they will.

And to its credit, CNNMoney offered balance by noting some GM executives once thought the Toyota Prius would be little more than a marketing exercise, and look at what a mistake that was. The Prius has now topped two million units sold worldwide, and has a fan base to the point that Toyota has considered making it its own sub brand.

The fact is no one knows that the Volt and related products do not still threaten to do the same.

In the meantime, Chevrolet is paying the bills and setting sales records with other mainstream products which means it will be better able to afford the progressive Volt roll out as it has foreseen and said it would all along.