General Motors and its joint ventures grew China sales 66.9% in 2009 to a record 1,826,424 units. Buick, Chevrolet and Wuling vehicles – the GM China family – achieved an estimated market share of 13.4%, an improvement of 1.3 % from the end of 2008. In 2009, SAIC-GM-Wuling became the first automaker in China to sell more than 1 million vehicles in a year.
China is now the world’s biggest automotive market. to 13.5 million units in 2009, according to the average forecast of five analysts polled by Reuters. GM’s dazzling growth exceeds the soaring growth of the China market.
Kevin Wale, President and Managing Director of the GM China Group said, “Chinese consumers responded enthusiastically to our lineup of modern, fuel-efficient and stylish products, validating our strategy of rolling out a steady cadence of great vehicles that are leaders in their respective segments.”
In 2009, as part of GM’s aggressive product launch strategy, GM and its joint ventures in China introduced several new and upgraded models to keep up with strong industry demand, including the new Buick LaCROSSE and New Regal turbo series; the Chevrolet Cruze; and the new Cadillac SLS and SRX. In addition, GM continued to bring to China its latest technology such as the new 1.2-liter engine in the Chevrolet Spark and ECOTEC 1.6-liter DVVT engine in the Chevrolet Cruze. Both powertrains made the list of the 10 best engines in China for 2009.
Growing Investment including Electric Cars
GM and its joint ventures continued increasing their investment in China to help position themselves for long-term success. To provide better service to local customers, Shanghai OnStar initiated in-vehicle safety, security and communication services. Shanghai GM broke ground on China’s largest proving ground in Anhui province, SAIC-GM-Wuling opened a new engine plant in Qingdao, and GM China moved to new offices in Shanghai, sharing space with the GM International Operations headquarters and the Center for Advanced Research and Science.
To maintain its growth, the GM China family continued to expand. In the middle of the year, GM launched an important new partnership with FAW, FAW-GM, which has given GM a presence in the light commercial vehicle segment. In December, GM and SAIC Motor announced the establishment of a new 50-50 joint venture investment company, General Motors SAIC Investment Ltd., to capture business opportunities in Asia’s emerging markets.
The joint global automobile partners of World Expo 2010 Shanghai, GM and SAIC, built their corporate pavilion. GM and SAIC will be jointly showcasing their vision for the future of urban transportation called “Drive to 2030.” GM will highlight its advances and leadership in hybrid cars, electric cars, and connectivity technology.
China is the world’s biggest market for electric vehicles with over 80 million e-bikes, e-scooters, and light electric vehicles on the roads.
Record Buick, Chevrolet and Wuling sales
Domestic sales by Shanghai GM rose 63.3% to 727,620 units in 2009. The passenger car joint venture was once again led by its original brand, Buick, which experienced sales growth of 59.6% to 447,011 units. The Excelle, which sold 241,109 units, remained the brand’s bestseller for the sixth consecutive year. Further contributing to the resurgence of Buick in China were the New Regal, which generated sales of 79,930 units, and the new LaCROSSE, which generated sales of 43,429 units in just six months on the market.
Chevrolet sales in China likewise experienced strong growth, with 332,774 units sold – an increase of 67.1% from 2008. The Cruze, GM’s new global compact car, enjoyed great success in China, with sales of 92,190 units despite being on the market only nine months. With sales of 596,630 units, the Wuling Sunshine set a Chinese industry record for annual sales by a single model.
Wale expressed optimism about the 2010 outlook. “Despite the sales records in 2009, it looks as if 2010 will be even stronger. The industry outlook is strong and we expect more growth, albeit on a somewhat slower pace. It is our intent to keep up with that growth and make sure we defend our leadership position. GM has all the tools in place to have another great year in China.”