GM to release 20 new models in China expansion

PUBLISHED : Wednesday, 16 February, 2011, 12:00am
UPDATED : Wednesday, 16 February, 2011, 12:00am

General Motors, the largest overseas carmaker in China, plans to increase investment on the mainland, as well as introduce more new models and strengthen its research and development there to tap the world's biggest car market.

Chairman and chief executive Dan Akerson said during a trip to Beijing yesterday that GM will introduce more than 20 new and upgraded models in China over the next two years.

The company will also invest heavily in the country to ensure its leading position, said Akerson without disclosing further details of the company's investment plans.

'To remain a global industry leader, GM must remain an industry leader in China,' said Akerson, who took over as chief executive in September. 'We are fully committed to this market for the long term by putting the necessary resources and investments in place.'

The Detroit-based company sold 2.35 million vehicles in China last year, up about 29 per cent on the previous year, due in part to an expansion into provincial cities. That is more vehicles than it sold in the United States, where it delivered 2.22 million vehicles in 2010.

GM's January sales also hit a monthly record of 268,071 units, up 22.3 per cent from a year earlier. The company estimates it has a 14.7 per cent market share on the mainland.

As part of its research and development plan, Akerson said it would seek a leading position in new energy vehicles with the introduction of the Chevrolet Volt and the new Buick LaCrosse e-Assist. Much of GM's new energy development will take place in China. 'We will focus more on advanced design, and we want our products to be in tune with our Chinese customers' preference,' Akerson said.

He said that all the company's research and development expenditure on the mainland would be funded out of the profits generated in the country.

The US company has 11 joint ventures in China with domestic car manufacturers SAIC and FAW and operates 11 assembly plants and four power train facilities in eight cities.

GM said earlier that it will start selling its four-door Baojun 630 compact sedan this year through the SAIC-GM-Wuling venture. The car will be available at more than 100 dealers and will target customers in smaller cities.

The world's second-biggest carmaker, GM raised more than US$20 billion through an initial public offering in the US last November after it emerged from bankruptcy in 2008 and is counting on emerging markets including China, India and Brazil to boost its growth.

Vehicle sales in China grew more than 32 per cent to almost 18.1 million units last year. Sales this year are expected to grow about 15 per cent.