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Ford, GM Report Better-Than-Expected March Sales in China

Ford sales increase while GM posts small drop as SUV sales reign supreme.

by on Apr.08, 2016

Sport-utes continue to be the savior of sales in China for General Motors and Ford.

General Motors and Ford Motor Co. succeeded in holding their ground or growing sales in China in the face of some major headwinds with help of strong showings by their luxury brands, Cadillac and Lincoln.

Ford reported 2016 as first quarter sales in China increased 14% compared to the same period last year, with 314,454 vehicles sold. Sales of Ford-branded vehicles reached 114,788 in March, up 5% compared with March 2015.

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Lincoln has also had a strong start to the year with 5,484 vehicles sold in the first quarter, a three-fold increase compared with the same time in 2015. Lincoln’s strong performance in the first quarter was supported by the growing number of dealerships, which reached 37 by the end of March, and Chinese customers’ positive reception of Lincoln SUVs, Ford officials noted. (more…)

Cadillac Shifts Focus to China and Beyond

Overseas expansion key to long-term strategy,

by on Mar.08, 2016

Cadillac President Johan de Nysschen plans to add 11 new or updated models by 2020.

While it might still bill itself “the standard of the world,” Cadillac has long been a largely American-focused luxury brand. But as it begins the most aggressive roll-out of new products in its 113-year history, the focus is increasingly shifting overseas.

Though an assault on the European market is on hold, according to Cadillac brand boss Johan de Nysschen, the marque’s future – and, thus, its product strategy – will be increasingly centered on China which is expected to soon become the world’s largest luxury car market.

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“China has to be prioritized,” the South African-born executive stressed during a media drive of the new XT5 crossover-utility vehicle. Developing vehicles that appeal to that country’s increasingly affluent buyers must be “our primary mission.”

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Some Automakers Thriving in Slower China Economy

GM, Ford, Mercedes all expect sales to outpace industry in 2016.

by on Jan.18, 2016

The Buick Envision enjoyed explosive success in the Chinese market in 2015, giving GM reason to be optimistic about China in 2016.

A huge drop in the value of Chinese stocks has unsettled the global economy and led to predictions of slower growth around the world and intense pressure on the energy sector where an oil glut has developed in face of falling demand.

Nonetheless, automakers remain surprisingly upbeat about sales in China, which has become by far the world’s largest market for new vehicles despite the prospects for only modest growth of the Chinese economy overall.

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No one expects the kind of explosive, double-digit growth that characterized the decade prior to 2015 when it finally slowed dramatically. But automakers such as Ford Motor, General Motors and Daimler AG remain cautiously optimistic about their Chinese business. (more…)

GM’s Sales Dip in China in May

Decline marks second month in a row for falling sales.

by on Jun.04, 2015

While Buick sales were down 12.9% in China last month, the brand's best-sellers were the Excelle XT and GT.

General Motors’ sales in China dipped for the second consecutive month under the weight of increased competition from domestic and international brands, model changeovers and the slowing pace of economic growth in China.

GM and its joint ventures sold 252,567 vehicles last month in China, which was down 4% year over year. The big driver was model changeovers for several models combined with the phasing out of older ones. The company’s May retail sales reflected improved mix of SUVs and MPVs, which were up a combined 21.8%, plus a 10.9% increase in sales of Cadillac luxury models.

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For the first five months, GM and its joint ventures had record retail sales in China of 1,472,186 vehicles, an increase of 5.1% on an annual basis. China is one of the major pillars of post-bankruptcy GM and of vital importance to the company’s future. (more…)

Chinese Officials Express Concern over Indigenous Brands

Government pushing companies to develop technologies.

by on Oct.21, 2014

China's indigenous automakers are struggling to keep up with companies like Volkswagen, General Motors and others in its own market.

China is the world’s largest and fastest growing automotive market in the world, but the focus of the biggest Chinese policy makers, pundits and executives now is the well-being or fate of the country’s indigenous brands.

Some companies, such as Geely, are doing fine and governmental agencies, particularly local governments with a stake in the so-called state-owned enterprises, or SOEs, are doing what they can to assist the homegrown, according to information presented during the course of the two-day Global Automotive Forum, which was held last week in Wuhan, China.

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China is clearly willing to use subsidies for energy-efficient vehicles, rationed parking stickers and anti-trust enforcement to help bolster the indigenous brands, which have have steadily lost marketshare during the past 18 months. In addition, a new study by the Boston Consulting Group found the more than 80% of the Chinese consumers who expect to buy a car soon prefer foreign brands. (more…)

Despite Downturn China’s Economy Still Strong

Current growth rate near sweet spot of expansion.

by on Oct.21, 2014

Fan Gang, director, National Economic Research Institute, suggested China's economy will be strong for several years.

Despite the fact that China’s economy isn’t living up to predictions this year, the overall picture for the country is bright even as it faces significant challenges to its growth, one of China’s leading economists posited yesterday at the Global Automotive Forum in Wuhan, China.

Fan Gang, director, National Economic Research Institute, suggested China’s economy will grow at a slightly slower pace, 7.3% rather than the 7.5% rate projected by the central government at the beginning of the year. However, a growth rate of between 7% and 8% is more manageable and more sustainable for what is now the world’s second-largest economy behind the United States’.

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In fact, a hotter rate of growth would be problematic, Fan said. If the economy grew faster than 9%, inflation would become a problem for the country as a whole, while a growth rate of better than 10% could create an “asset bubble” either in real estate or elsewhere in the economy. (more…)

Ford, GM Continue Torrid Sales Pace in China

Makers set May record; Ford expects to hit 1 million units in 2014.

by on Jun.09, 2014

With cars like the Focus selling well, Ford expects to surpass 1 million in sales in China this year.

General Motors and Ford continue to roll up big sales totals in China, setting sales records during May.

Ford China sales grew 32% in May with 93,323 and Ford now expects to sell more than 1 million vehicles in China for the first time ever during 2014. Year-to-date sales were up 39%, with 461,473 wholesales sold compared to 332,308 wholesales sold in the first five months of 2013, Ford said.

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“Our sales are a direct reflection of our continued commitment to bring the best of Ford to China with a great lineup of Ford cars and utilities that offer high quality, great fuel efficiency, world class safety and smart technologies,” said John Lawler, chairman and chief executive officer, Ford Motor China. (more…)

New Boss for GM China

Tsien to be first Asian exec to oversee booming Chinese operations.

by on Dec.02, 2013

Matt Tsien becomes the first Asian chief of GM's huge Chinese operations.

Locked in a battle for domination in what has become the world’s largest automotive market, General Motors is shaking up its top Chinese management team.

Significantly, Matthew Tsien becomes the first executive of Asian heritage to run GM’s rapidly expanding empire in China – which generated more sales last year than the maker’s core U.S. operations.

A 37-year GM veteran, Tsien has clocked a wide range of assignments in markets as diverse as Germany and Australia, but he has also put in a significant amount of time in China where he has most recently been serving as vice president of Planning and Program Management for GM China and GM Consolidated International Operations and Strategic Alliances for China.

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In his new role, Tsien will succeed Bob Socia, who has announced he will retire on January 1.  Tsien will become a member of the GM Executive Operations Committee, reporting to General Motors Chairman and CEO Dan Akerson, which underscores the importance GM puts on the China market.

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First Chinese Auto Plant Opens in Europe

Can cheap Chinese cars crack the European market?

by on Feb.28, 2012

The first car rolls off the assembly plant at the new Great Wall factory in Bulgaria, China's first in the EU.

Europe’s ongoing debt crisis has been crippling the Continental economy, sending automakers into a tailspin.  By most estimates, European car sales will buck the global turnaround and post at least a modest decline this year.

But that could be good news for the Chinese automaker Great Wall Motor which hopes to appeal to increasingly budget-minded European buyers with models like the Hover SUV, Steed pickup and Voleex city car.  All three will be produced at a new plant in the village of Bahovitsa, Bulgaria, and carry prices ranging from around $11,000 to $16,000.

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While Bulgaria itself is not a name normally associated with car manufacturing what’s all the more significant is that the three products will be produced at what is the first Chinese-run auto plant in the European Union.  The factory is part of a joint venture between Great Wall and its Bulgarian partner Litex Motors.

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Marchionne Issues Warning About China

Chrysler CEO says industry can meet 54.5 mpg mileage rules.

by on Aug.03, 2011

Chrysler CEO Sergio Marchionne at the 2011 Management Briefing Seminars - notably shedding his trademark black sweater for a more Summer-friendly polo shirt.

China’s fast-growing automakers pose a direct theft to the more established automotive order, Chrysler CEO Sergio Marchionne warned during an appearance at an annual automotive gathering in Northern Michigan today.

But the Canadian-educated executive said he is more confident than many that the industry will be able to meet the newly-approved 54.5 mpg Corporate Average Fuel Economy, or CAFE, standard – and without having to make a major shift to electric propulsion.

“We cannot afford to be unprepared for the ascent of China.   Even assuming China were to export only 10 percent of what it produces, the risk we face in our home markets is enormous,” said Marchionne, during an appearance at the annual Management Briefing Seminar, in Traverse City, Michigan.

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“The excuse that we did not understand or that we underestimated the scale will serve no purpose.  Rather we need to continue to work to make our industrial base more competitive, because the day of reckoning is inevitably coming,” he said, taking aim at the seeming complacency of companies such as General Motors, Daimler AG and Volkswagen AG, all of which have grown to depend on the Chinese market.

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