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GM China Chief Kevin Wale Stepping Down

Supply chain boss Socia to take on Asian assignment.

by on Sep.12, 2012

GM China Group President and Managing Director Kevin Wale will retire after nearly 40 years with the maker.

General Motors’ China chief is stepping down – and at a time when an unexpected economic slowdown in the massive Asian market threatens to throw the Chinese auto industry into turmoil.

No specific reason was given for 57-year-old Kevin Wale’s decision to retire though he has been working for the maker for nearly four decades, starting out in his native Australia with GM’s Holden subsidiary at the age of 20.

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Wale will be succeeded by Bob Socia, who has been serving since 2009 as GM’s director of global purchasing and supply chain.

“Kevin has been instrumental in strengthening our foundation in the largest vehicle market in the world,” Tim Lee, GM vice president for global manufacturing and president of GM’s International Operations, said in a statement.


Chinese Auto Market Continues Losing Steam

U.S. likely to outpace China for 2012.

by on Sep.11, 2012

The Geely Gleagle at the recent Beijing Motor Show.

It’s been the engine that helped prop up many an automaker through the industry’s recent hard times, continuing to help European manufacturers overcome their problems at home. But there are growing signs that China’s once booming auto industry is fast losing momentum – like much of the rest of that nation’s economy.

China remains the world’s largest automotive market but data released today by the China Association of Auto Manufacturers suggests it won’t even keep pace with the U.S. market this year.  After an unexpected dip during the first quarter and a tepid recovery during the late spring and early summer, August automotive sales rose a meager 3.7%.

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That’s well below what most analysts had been forecasting – and the equivalent of a major downturn considering that for much of the past decade China’s car market grew at well into a double-digit pace, some years topping 70%.


Chevrolet Volt Debuts in Shanghai

Shuttles lead to 2011 sales in the world’s largest auto market.

by on Aug.31, 2010

General Motors Company marked the arrival of the first drivable Chevrolet Volt models in China today as two of the electric vehicles appeared at the Shanghai Expo Bureau for use as part of its VIP transportation fleet at World Expo 2010 Shanghai.

China will be one of the first markets outside the U.S. where the Volt will be on sale next year.

GM is sending the Volt to China before Europe.

The Volts will shuttle guests to and from Shanghai’s Expo Park and demonstrate what GM is calling its “vision of sustainable urban transportation.” China of course is heavily dependent on coal-powered electric utilities and along with the U.S. is a leading producer of greenhouse gas emissions.


“GM has made a long-term commitment to bringing our industry-leading technology to China,” said Kevin Wale, President and Managing Director of the GM China Group. “This is enabling us to provide the best mobility solutions for addressing the transportation challenges associated with the growth in demand for personal mobility.”

The Volt is the only electric vehicle that can operate under a range of climates and driving conditions with little concern of being stranded by a depleted battery since it carries its own 1.4-liter gasoline engine on board to charge the batteries.


Don’t Expect Chinese Market to Slow, Warns GM’s Shanghai Chief

Annual sales could double in the mid-term, says Kevin Wale.

by on Jan.13, 2010

GM hopes the new Chevrolet Sail will keep sales booming in China, the world's largest market.

China has a way of delivering some surprises.  Just ask former General Motors Chairman Jack Smith.

It was just over a decade ago when he announced plans to form a joint venture with the local maker, Shanghai Automotive Industry Consortium, and open an assembly plant.  In a land known as “the bicycle kingdom,” the landscape was “littered with casualties,” warned one major newspaper.  It shouldn’t have bothered.

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Last year, Chinese auto sales surged to 13.5 million, soaring past the U.S. to become the world’s largest national market.  And GM went along for the ride, its own sales rocketing from just 32,000 when it opened its first showrooms, in 1999, to 1.83 million, last year.  That makes China the maker’s second-largest market, “by a considerably wide margin,” said Kevin Wale, president of GM China Group.