GM eyes doubling of China sales by 2015

Reuters

By Ben Klayman

Wale said GM will step up engineering, product investment and other items in China to between $5 billion and $7 billion in the next five years.

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The 2015 target would be up from 2.35 million units sold by GM in China in 2010. In the previous two years, GM more than doubled its volume in China.

"We've set aggressive goals with our five-year plan. We are confident that we will achieve every one of our goals," Wale told reporters.

The Detroit-based automaker over the next five years plans to expand production capacity of light trucks and commercial vehicles in China to 3.7 million vehicles annually, up from the current 2.8 million capacity.

"We'll keep on expanding facilities wherever we can," Wale said.

GM is looking to tap a market that it expects will continue to grow strongly, even though it may slow from last year, when the vehicle market expanded by one-third.

GM and its rivals are rolling out new models for the Chinese market, looking to gain a foothold particularly in the smaller cities where much of the growth is expected over the next five years.

"We still expect the market to grow between 10 to 15 percent this year," Wale said, referring to the broader China market.

As part of its plans, GM aims to work with local partner SAIC Motor Corp <600104.SS> to develop next-generation electric vehicle (EV) architecture adapted to the Chinese market, Wale said, adding that GM aimed to build battery electric vehicles in China.

GM plans to launch the new Baojun brand, which it is producing through a venture with SAIC in southern China, at 150 dealerships and to expand quickly, he said.

GM also unveiled targets for other markets.

Tim Lee, president of GM's international operations, told the briefing that the company planned to team up with its partners to introduce light commercial vehicles to India.

GM international operations Vice President of Sales Susan Docherty added that GM expects sales of Chevrolet vehicles in its international operations, including China, to more than double in five years.

Chevrolet sold 1.1 million vehicles globally in the first quarter, up 15 percent from a year earlier, Docherty said.

GM sold 1.2 million Chevrolets in its international operations unit last year, a 40 percent increase from 2009 and more than double from five years ago.

Chevrolet vehicles constitute about 35 percent of all GM international operation sales.

GM said late last year it expects exports of its China-made Chevrolet Sail to more than quadruple this year due to rising demand for low-cost quality vehicles in emerging markets.

(Writing by Jason Subler and Bernie Woodall; Editing by Jacqueline Wong and Maureen Bavdek)

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