Tue, Jan 10, 2012 - Page 10 News List

GM posts record China sales in 2011

AFP, SHANGHAI and Washington

US auto giant General Motors (GM) said yesterday its sales in China hit a record high last year, despite a broader slowdown in the world’s largest vehicle market.

GM and its joint ventures in China sold about 2.55 million units last year, up more than 8 percent from the previous record of 2.35 million in 2010, the company said in a statement.

“GM stayed ahead of the competition despite a slowdown in the growth of industry demand,” Kevin Wale, president of GM China Group, said in the statement.

China, which overtook the US to become the world’s top auto market in 2009, has become increasingly important for global players such as GM and Germany’s Volkswagen Group.

In last month alone, GM’s sales in China rose 9.8 percent annually to 196,797 units.

The China Association of Automobile Manufacturers, which tracks auto sales and production in the country, has yet to release figures for all of last year.

However, association officials have forecast that annual growth for last year would be just 5 percent, down from an earlier forecast of 10 to 15 percent.

Sales soared more than 32 percent in 2010, but have since lost some steam amid a slowdown in economic growth and after China phased out incentives, such as tax breaks for small-engine vehicles.

China has moved to protect its domestic auto industry in recent weeks, slapping import tariffs on some US passenger cars and sports utility vehicles, and saying it would “withdraw support” for foreign investment in the sector.

However, the lure of the massive market remains.

Volkswagen said last week it would build a new plant in the eastern city of Ningbo capable of producing 300,000 vehicles annually once the facility is completed by 2014.

Separately, GM’s Cadillac brand on Sunday introduced an all-new compact sedan it hopes will wrestle back a footing in a market dominated by German cars.

“Developed on an all-new, lightweight vehicle architecture, Cadillac’s entry into the world’s most significant luxury car segment goes on sale this summer,” GM said in a statement on the 2013 ATS.

The new car will be rear-drive and benefit from the enhanced Cadillac CUE navigation system it said “merges intuitive design with industry-first controls and commands for information and media data.”

“There’s nothing like competing at the highest level to sharpen the best edge in people,” said Dan Akerson, chief executive of GM at press conference on Sunday.

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