GM China Says 2009 Sales Expected to Rise 40%

Market will be 11.5 to 12 million vehicles, up from 9.1 million units last year

General Motors predicted its 2009 sales in China would rise by more than 40% year-on-year.

The prediction came as GM and its Chinese partners said August sales soared 112.7% year-on-year to 152,365 units -- the latest in a series of single-month records stretching back to January.

"We are now looking at (an overall China) market of 11.5 to 12 million vehicles, up from 9.1 million units last year," GM China Group President and Managing Director Kevin Wale said.

China sales for the first eight months of 2009 hit 1,111,401 units, a 49.6% increase over the same period last year, GM said.

At the same time in the U.S., GM's biggest market, August sales dropped 20% and year-to-date sales fell 35% to 1.4 million vehicles.

Demand for its Buick and Chevrolet models helped Shanghai GM, a joint venture with the Shanghai Automotive Industry Corp., post an all-time monthly sales record in August of more than 63,300 units, the company said. Buick, a struggling brand elsewhere that is popular among China's burgeoning middle class, saw sales rise 102.8% on year in August with more than 38,900 units sold. Meanwhile, Chevrolet sales in China hit an all-time monthly high of more than 23,770 vehicles sold, up 99.4% year-on-year, GM said.

"We expect sales to remain robust through the end of the year," Wale said. "The continued introduction of new products will help GM remain ahead of the market."

Copyright Agence France-Presse, 2009

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