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GM Defies Downturn in Chinese Market

Sales up overall but some problems appear.

by on Jun.06, 2012

GM China President Kevin Wales.

Signs of a looming economic slowdown failed to stop General Motors and its joint ventures from chalking up record sales in China last month – though it remains to be seen if the U.S. maker can continue to defy the unexpected downturn that is tripping up much of the rest of the Chinese economy.

That could be a serious problem for GM which saw record sales of more than 2 million vehicles in China last year, a surge in demand that helped it regain its position as global automotive sales leader.  GM is, meanwhile, hoping to more than double that figure, targeting Chinese sales of 5 million by mid-decade.

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Whether the Chinese market will cooperate is uncertain. Auto sales actually slipped during the first quarter, though the general consensus has been for about 10% to 12% growth for the full year — but even that target, modest by recent Chinese standards, is now in question.

“The increase in auto sales in China has recently slowed dramatically, and we expect this trend to continue because of slowing economic growth, high gasoline prices, and the expiration of government incentives for car buyers,” warns Standard & Poor’s credit analyst Robert Schulz.


First Look: GM EN-V 2.0

An electric rickshaw?

by on Apr.25, 2012

A rendering of the second-generation networked vehicle, GM's EN-V 2.0.

It looks more like an electric rickshaw than a conventional automobile – which may be one reason why General Motors chose to unveil its second-generation “Electric Networked Vehicle” at Auto China 2012.

But the little 2-seater points to the future of transportation, rather than the past, according to Kevin Wales, the president of the GM China Group, who called EN-V 2.0 “a more practical design” than the quirky little runabout the maker originally introduce in Shanghai two years ago.

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The first, pod-like EN-V might have looked like a concoction whipped up for a sci-fi adventure film but it was deadly serious and aimed at solving some of the most pressing problems facing automotive manufacturers, regulators and motorists alike: the need to eliminate automotive emissions, reduce energy consumption and minimize traffic snarls, especially in car-choked cities like Beijing or Shanghai.


Optimism Rules at Shanghai Motor Show

How far is up for the world’s largest auto market?

by on Apr.19, 2011

Ford may be an also-ran in China, but it plans to catch up quickly with a range of new products.

The astonishing growth of the Chinese appetite for new cars and trucks is showing no sign of slowing down, good news for the scores of automakers gathered for this year’s Shanghai Motor Show.

The industry saw sales surge by 32%, last year –after a 2009 gain of 46% — to a global record of 18 million vehicles, leading makers foreign and domestic to announce billions of dollars in investments – and scores of new products – during a media preview that has drawn an estimated 10,000 journalists and top executives from around the globe.

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“I know this is the most exciting auto show I’ve ever been too,” said Jim Farley, Ford Motor Co. executive in charge of the company’s global marketing effort.

Farley compared the energy unleashed by the show’s opening day to the excitement created by General Motors’ once popular Autoramas, a highlight of the U.S. car boom of the 1950s.