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GM Bumps Up Chinese Production

Maker targets new buyers with Baojun brand.

by on Nov.26, 2012

The Baojun 630 targets the next wave of new Chinese car buyers.

Hoping to maintain its role as the Chinese market’s sales leader, General Motors has opened up a new assembly plant primarily aimed at the next generation of buyers in cities just beginning to share in China’s fast-growing economy.

The factory, in the southern city if Liuzhou, will be used to build the Baojun 630 midsize sedan. The Baojun brand was launched just over a year ago as a joint venture between General Motors and its existing Chinese partners, Shanghai Automotive Industries Inc., or SAIC, and Wuling Motors. The three have been operating jointly as SGMW.

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Until now, China’s automotive boom has largely focused on major cities along the Pacific coast, including Shanghai and Beijing. But demand is rapidly growing in central and western “Tier 2” and “Tier 3” cities just beginning to share in the country’s economic expansion. Baojun is especially focused on first-time, entry-level buyers.

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GM Launching Volt in China

Meanwhile, GM production set to resume in Spring Hill.

by on Nov.23, 2011

The Chevrolet Volt was first shown in China at Shanghai's Expo 2010.

General Motors Co. has set up distribution of the American-made Chevrolet Volt in China – the plug-in hybrid set to go on sale at 13 Shanghai GM Chevrolet dealerships in eight Chinese cities, including the Chinese capitol, Beijing, as well as Shanghai itself, Hangzhou, Suzhou, Wuxi, Guangzhou, Shenzhen and Foshan.

The Chevy Volt will be one of the rare U.S. exports to the booming Asian nation – now the world’s largest automotive market.  Most cars sold in China are produced in-country, with the market dominated by joint ventures pairing local and foreign makers such as the alliance between GM and Shanghai-based SAIC.

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The Chinese will see a sticker price of $75,533, or 498,000 RMB, for what GM prefers to call an extended-range electric vehicle. The Volt is designed to deliver more than 40 miles per charge of its lithium-ion battery pack.  It then can continue driving by firing up a small gasoline engine.

GM made the announcement of the distribution of the Volt in China as part of the company’s  participation in Auto Guangzhou 2011. Two of GM’s joint ventures, Shanghai GM and SAIC-GM-Wuling, are displaying more than 30 vehicles from the Buick, Chevrolet, Cadillac and the new Baojun brands.

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Wuling: GM’s secret weapon in fight for China

Targeting the next generation of Chinese motorists.

by on Apr.26, 2011

The new Baojun 630 will target the next wave of new Chinese car buyers.

Far from the bright lights and sophistication of its base in Shanghai, General Motors has developed a secret weapon in the duel for supremacy in the Chinese market.  In 2010, SGMWuling, or Wuling for short, generated roughly 50% of all GM’s sales in China.

Based in LiuZhou, a gritty industrial city some 1,400 kilometers (875 miles) south of Shanghai, Wuling is now the single largest brand sold in all of China – by far dominating the more familiar Buick brand that was GM;s first entry into the Chinese market. Wuling’s small, utilitarian vans dominate one of the largest and most important segments in China’s fast-growing vehicle market and it’s quickly adding capacity to capitalize on its recent success.

In addition, Wuling is launching its own car brand, Baojun, which will fill in price points below Chevrolet and appeal to motorists in China’s second, third and fourth-tier cities where buyers tend to be more concerned about value and affordability than status.

“Wuling is most respected in rural areas,” notes Kevin Wale, president of GM China, adding Baojun is aimed at market where buyers want value. Thus, the prices for the Baojun 630, which was unveiled at the Shanghai Motor Show last week, is expected to start at around $8,500. SGMW hasn’t confirmed any prices yet, however no vehicle in the line now costs more than $9,500.

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Wuling already sells one passenger car, the Letchi, which is based on the old Chevrolet Spark, and the plans are to add more models to the Baojun line fairly quickly.  It will compete for sales in inland China with regional brands that play an important role for ambitious local Chinese auto companies such as Geely and Chery.

Matthew Tsien, Wuling vice president and one of a small cadre of GM personnel assigned to LiuZhou, explained that Wuling is a three-way joint venture between GM, its Shanghai-based partner SAIC and a local, state-owned enterprise, LiuZhou Wuling Motor Co. Ltd.

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GM Will Increase Investments in China

“Key to our success,” proclaims CEO Akerson.

by on Feb.17, 2011

GM's SAIC-GM-Wuling joint venture has begun sales of the Wuling Hong Guang, the first compact business van ever offered in China.

If you didn’t know it, China is awfully important to General Motors.

GM chairman and chief executive officer Daniel Akerson traveled to the booming Asian nation, this week, and emphasized that China remains critical to GM’s future – and will continue to see more and more investments dollars.

“As our largest market, China played a significant role in GM’s success in 2010. We will continue investing aggressively in China to ensure the long-term success of our company.” Akerson said.

GM’s strength in China was instrumental last year in moving the company into a position where it came within 30,000 units of overtaking arch-rival Toyota, the world’s largest automaker.  GM also became the first automaker to sell more than 2 million vehicles in China during a single year, in 2010.

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Is the Era of Cheap Chinese Products Over?

Toyota strike, floating Remnimbi raise ominous concerns.

by on Jun.23, 2010

Will demand for better wages hurt the Chinese auto industry? A rise in the value of the Remnimbi could be the real problem.

Toyota has again suspended production at its main Chinese assembly plant in the wake of a walkout by workers at a key supplier facility.  The second strike in a month at a joint venture partially owned by Japanese partsmaker Denso, hits hard a Toyota facility with the capacity for 360,000 vehicles a year.

The walkout comes in the wake of similar strife at a Honda transmission plant in China that cost that maker thousands of units of production and eventually led Honda to approve significant increases in wages and benefits to get angry workers back onto the line.

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These and other recent labor confrontations come as a surprise to China-watchers who know how much emphasis the Beijing government puts on maintaining the appearance of social order.  And they’re all the more unusual considering the traditionally company-friendly approach unions have played in China.

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