Automotive: GM aims to double China vehicle sales to 5 million

SHANGHAI (AP) -- General Motors Co. said Monday it plans to double the number of cars it sells in China to 5 million by 2015.

GM China President Kevin Wale said he's optimistic the company can achieve the "ambitious" target, which is more than twice the 2.35 million vehicles it sold in 2010.

Global automakers are focusing their efforts on China's auto market, which is the world's biggest. Some 13.7 million passenger vehicles were sold in the country last year, when sales grew by a third over 2009.

Automakers and analysts don't expect such strong growth this year because of the end of tax incentives for some vehicle purchases and efforts by cities to bring traffic congestion under control.

Wale said the company expects sales to grow by at least 10 percent annually, thanks to China's strong economic growth and low rate of vehicle ownership. Increased consumer spending and urbanization would also help, he said.

GM plans to roll out 60 new and upgraded models in China in the next five years, almost half of them Chevrolets and Buicks, Wale said.

Earlier Monday, the company unveiled the 630 sedan, the first model from Baojun, its only-in-China brand aimed at new middle class consumers.

GM said Monday that the Chevrolet brand had its best first quarter sales ever. GM sold 1.1 million Chevrolets worldwide in the first quarter, up 15 percent from the same period last year. Chevrolet's China sales, for instance, were up 17 percent to a record 159,303 for the quarter.

GM also said so far its international factories haven't been hurt much by parts shortages from the Japan earthquake. Tim Lee, president of GM International Operations, said there has been "minimal" impact on production from supply chain disruptions related to the tsunami in Japan last month.

Published: Tue, Apr 19, 2011