GM First Foreign Carmaker to Sell 2 Million Units in China

GM is also developing new energy vehicles with partner Shanghai Automotive Industry Corp.

The strong China sales further underlined the country's growing importance to GM, where it has been the market leader for five years and the carmaker's international operations are now based.

"This is another important milestone for General Motors in China," GM China president and managing director Kevin Wale said.

In a sign of GM's momentum, Wale pointed out it was only three years ago that GM -- along with its Chinese joint venture partners -- became the first to sell one million vehicles a year.

"Over the past decade, China's vehicle market has experienced unprecedented growth," Wale said. China overtook the United States last year to become the world's largest auto market for the first time and is on track to hold onto the top spot this year, analysts say.

"GM has grown with it, working with our joint ventures to expand our lineup of vehicles and brands, adding to our portfolio of services, and increasing our production capacity to meet the changing needs of consumers," he added.

GM announced on Nov. 3 that it had agreed to closer ties with partner Shanghai Automotive Industry Corp. (SAIC), China's biggest car company, including cooperation on the development of new energy vehicles. GM's other joint ventures in China are SAIC-GM-Wuling, a mini-commercial vehicle joint venture with SAIC and Liuzhou Wuling Automobile, and FAW-GM Light Duty Commercial Vehicle, a tie-up with China's FAW Group launched in August.

The company said it and its joint ventures have benefited from record monthly sales throughout the year. In October, GM sold 199,641 vehicles in China, a 19.6% rise year-on-year.

SAIC Group, the biggest domestic carmaker which sold 2.7 million vehicles last year, has said it is closely watching GM's $13 billion U.S. initial public offering. A spokeswoman for the Chinese automaker declined to comment on Thursday on reports that it would like to invest in the listing, saying only: "We hope their IPO will be successful."

Copyright Agence France-Presse, 2010

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