Exclusive: GM thinks bigger in China with plan to import full-size SUVs

In this news, we discuss the Exclusive: GM thinks bigger in China with plan to import full-size SUVs.

SHANGHAI (Reuters) – General Motors Co GM.N plans to sell full-size sport utility vehicle (SUV) models in China for the first time, and will import a range of models to expand its product line into the world’s largest car market, its Chinese chief told Reuters.

The plan would mark a change of course for GM, which currently produces all the vehicles it sells in China in the country, which is expected to be the only major economy to grow this year amid the COVID-19 pandemic.

GM, China’s second-largest overseas automaker, aims to offer four models to enhance its brand image and support a sales recovery: Chevrolet’s Tahoe and Suburban, Cadillac’s Escalade, and GMC Yukon Denali.

The Detroit-based company is showcasing these models at the China International Import Expo, or CIIE, an annual Shanghai import show that started on Wednesday and continues next week.

“Our intention is to get customer feedback and find a way to sell these cars in China,” said Julian Blissett, Chinese director of GM.

The automaker sees opportunities for such vehicles, in part because Chinese families are growing, he added.

“We are looking at a variety of sales plans in the market for these vehicles, including online sales, leasing and others,” he said, declining to give a detailed timeline for the plan.

GM’s mid-size Buick and Cadillac SUVs helped the group’s Chinese sales grow 12% in the third quarter of this year, the first quarterly growth in the past two years.

But it doesn’t have full-size SUV models, which typically have a third row of seats and can accommodate six or seven people.

BATTLEFIELD

China, where more than 25 million vehicles were sold last year, is a crucial battleground for global automakers including Volkswagen AG VOWG_p.DE, the largest foreign player in terms of sales volumes, GM and Toyota 7203.T as well as local leaders Geely 0175.HK and Great Wall 601633.SS.

The country has seen a rebound in auto sales in recent months following a COVID-19-induced slump, and authorities say they have largely contained the epidemic after it emerged in central Wuhan at the end. from last year.

The expansion plan would also mark GM’s first official sales in China of GMC vehicles, a premium brand of the group. Previously, GMC vehicles were sold in the country only through unofficial gray importers.

Imports will not change GM’s core production strategy in China, however. It will still primarily sell vehicles made in China – at least for now.

“Depending on how we’re going, we might be making other decisions,” Blissett said.

GM has a Shanghai-based joint venture with SAIC Motor Corp Ltd. 600104.SS which manufactures Buick, Chevrolet and Cadillac vehicles. He has another company, SGMW, along with SAIC and Guangxi Automobile Group, producing no-frills minivans, which has started making high-end cars.

Blissett said GM expected “strong November and December” in China after positive sales in October. The automaker is also considering exporting Chinese-made electric vehicles to the world, he told Reuters.

The company’s competitors, from Tesla Inc. TSLA.O to BMW BMWG.DE, are among a growing number of automakers using China as an export hub for electric vehicles.

Reporting by Yilei Sun and Brenda Goh; Editing by Pravin Char

Original © Thomson Reuters

Originally posted 2020-11-05 17:46:10.

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