Troubles at home aside, General Motors' Chevrolet brand has blazed a path to the top of Europe's biggest market - and it's not Germany. Russia's 2008 first-half sales surpassed Germany's, rising 41% to a total volume of 1.65 million cars.

The incredible increase is driven directly by consumer spending, which went up even more than car sales, rising 64% to $33.8 billion.

Like the U.S., about half the market is taken up by foreign carmakers. Chevrolet is the best-selling brand in the country, with Hyundai and Ford rounding out the top three through the first six months of the year.

Total volume in the Russian market is expected to reach 3.8 million, or more than 25% of the projected year-end figures for the U.S. market, according to Edmund's AutoObserver, citing an accounting analysis by PricewaterhouseCoopers LLP. German sales are only projected to make it to 3.2 million be year's end. The strength in Russia's market isn't expected to run out anytime soon, either - in the years leading up to 2015, the country's car sales are expected to account for one-fifth of global sales growth.