Tue, Aug 07, 2012 - Page 15 News List

China car sales hit new record high, GM says

TURBO-CHARGED:Figures show that, despite the removal of Chinese government car-purchase subsidies, the US firm has seen a major sales hike


US auto giant General Motors said yesterday that its sales in China surged to a record 199,503 vehicles last month, defying a market slowdown and moves by a major Chinese city to limit car numbers.

GM’s sales in China — the world’s biggest auto market — rose 15.1 percent last month from the same month last year, it said in a statement.

For the first seven months of this year, the auto giant sold more than 1.6 million vehicles in China, up 11.7 percent year-on-year.

China’s nationwide auto sales slowed last year after the government rolled back purchasing incentives and some cities imposed limits on car numbers to ease traffic congestion and cut pollution.

China’s overall vehicle sales rose just 2.5 percent to 18.51 million units last year, compared with an annual increase of more than 32 percent in 2010.

The booming southern city of Guangzhou last month set rules to limit the number of cars through a quota on the number of vehicle number plates made available by the government.

The northern city of Xian also said last week that it is soliciting public opinion on planned regulations to cap the number of cars in the city, though it gave no details on how.

However, foreign brands have managed to buck the slowing trend with better brand recognition and perceptions of better quality among domestic consumers. GM sold more than 2.5 million vehicles in China last year.

Separately, GM and Brazilian trade union Sindicato dos Metalurgicos have agreed to postpone until November a politically sensitive decision to eliminate as many as 1,840 jobs at a factory near Sao Paulo.

The decision, following tense talks and heated reminders by Brazil’s government that current tax cuts enjoyed by the carmaker go hand-in-hand with a pledge to preserve jobs, gives GM an additional three months to decide about layoffs on an assembly line it says it no longer needs.

China’s auto love affair

‧ The US-based car-making giant saw China sales rise by 15.1 percent last month, compared with last year.

‧ 1.6 million GM vehicles were sold in China in the first seven months of this year.

‧ Guangzhou recently took steps to limit the numbers of new cars sold in a bid to curb pollution and congestion.

‧ China’s overall vehicle sales rose 2.5 percent last year.

After nine hours of talks with the union on Saturday, Luiz Moan, GM’s head of institutional relations in Brazil, said the carmaker would proceed with negotiations on the workers’ labor agreement in the coming months. Meanwhile, union members were set to vote on the agreement at an assembly today.

Of the workers at risk of losing their jobs, GM will keep 900 on the assembly line, the company said. The rest will continue receiving their salaries as they undergo training for other jobs.

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