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Renewed China focus for GM

Buick Envision: This SUV concept from GM's luxury-oriented brand is one of more than 25 GM production and concept vehicles on display at the 2011 Shanghai show.

GM plans to double Chinese sales to five million in five years via 60 new models

General Motors logo19 Apr 2011

By MARTON PETTENDY

GENERAL Motors has its eyes firmly fixed on the Chinese prize, announcing its intention to double sales in its largest single market to five million sales within five years.

Revealed by GM China Group president and managing director – and former Holden and Vauxhall executive – Australian Kevin Wale before today’s Shanghai motor show opening, GM’s new five-year plan for China involves the introduction of more than 60 new or upgraded models.

GM’s ambitious mid-term strategy was announced on the same day that China’s industry and information technology ministry said it expected annual vehicle sales in the world’s most populous nation to hit 23 million units by 2015 – a 27 per cent increase on 2010 sales.

Vehicle sales in China increased by 32.4 per cent in 2010 to 18.06 million units (including 13.8 million Chinese-built vehicles – up 33 per cent), making it the world’s biggest auto market for the second straight year.

However, sales growth has slowed this year after the withdrawal of federal government incentives for car-makers and local government subsidies for individuals.

China's first-quarter vehicle sales rose 8.1 per cent from a year earlier to 4.98 million units – sharply lower than the 72 per cent growth recorded there in the first quarter of 2010.

 center imageFrom top: GM China Group president and managing director Kevin Wale, Buick Envision Concept interior, Buick LaCrosse with eAssist, Baojun 630 sedan.

Shanghai-based SAIC Motor Corp – China’s largest auto-maker, the Chinese partner of both GM and market leader Volkswagen and owner of Britain’s MG Rover – expects its 2011 vehicle sales to rise by about 12 per cent and hopes to sell four million vehicles this year, up from 3.58 million in 2010.

While GM sold 2.35 million vehicles in China last year and hopes to double that to around five million by 2015, Ford, which sold just 582,467 vehicles there in 2010 (up 40 per cent), has forecast a company growth rate in line with the industry of between five and 10 per cent.

Ford last week said it would introduce 15 new models, double its dealerships from 340 and add 1200 new jobs in China by 2015, as it seeks to catch up with the larger presence of its rivals there.

It used today’s Shanghai show opening to stage the Asian debut of three new electrified vehicles and announce that aims for electric cars to account for 10 to 25 per cent of its total car sales by 2020 – up from just one per cent currently.

However, GM went one better by announcing it was aiming for industry leadership in the electrification field by building on its existing range of “new energy” products, which it says is already the most comprehensive in China.

While it is not due here until 2012, GM later this year will launch the Volt plug-in hybrid in China, where it already sells the Buick LaCrosse Eco-Hybrid and Cadillac Escalade two-mode hybrid.

GM, which in December revealed the Sail battery-electric concept car co- developed by Shanghai GM and PATAC, said it will introduce the new Buick LaCrosse with eAssist, which shares its plug-in hybrid technology with the Buick Envision SUV concept seen at Auto Shanghai 2011.

GM’s two mainstream Chinese brands, Chevrolet and Buick, will account for nearly half of the 60 new or upgraded models GM plans to launch in China by 2015.

The luxury-oriented Buick brand will introduce about 12 new and upgraded products, while 15 will come from Chevrolet, which will continue to offer a range of affordable vehicles, from small cars to midsize sedans, plus a new line-up of SUVs and performance vehicles.

Apart from debuting the new Malibu medium sedan, GM also used Auto Shanghai 2011 to display more than 25 production and concept vehicles, including the Buick Envision SUV concept and mid-size Baojun 630 sedan – the first model from SAIC-GM-Wuling’s new Baojun passenger vehicle brand in China.

Making its Chinese debut will be the Cadillac CTS Coupe, the facelifted Chevrolet Captiva SUV and Camaro coupe, and a new pick-up from FAW-GM, GM’s light-duty truck joint-venture, to be built at FAW-GM’s new plant in Changchun.

“Successful new models like the Chevrolet New Sail and new Buick GL8, and the upcoming Baojun 630, have all been developed in (China),” said Mr Wale.

“Our growing product development capability will enable us to continue moving quickly to meet the unique needs of the market and our customers nationwide.

“Over the last 15 years, GM has focused on growing all areas of our business in China – from our brands to our product line-up to new business opportunities – both on our own and with our partners. We have recorded many achievements, but we still have a lot more to achieve.

“We have set some aggressive goals with our five-year plan. We are confident that we will achieve every one of our goals by providing local consumers great products and compelling designs relevant to the market and by following our strategy of working in, with and for.”

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