GM sees China sales growth slowing in 2010

GUANGZHOU Sun Nov 22, 2009 11:04pm EST

General Motors auto dealership employees drive brand new Chevrolet cars at a parking lot in Shenyang, Liaoning province, November 7, 2009. REUTERS/Sheng Li

General Motors auto dealership employees drive brand new Chevrolet cars at a parking lot in Shenyang, Liaoning province, November 7, 2009.

Credit: Reuters/Sheng Li

GUANGZHOU (Reuters) - General Motors GM.UL expects its China sales growth to drop dramatically in 2010 as the carmaker nears the end of a year of government stimulus-fueled growth in the world's biggest car market, the head of the company's China operations said on Monday.

The company expects China sales to rise 50 percent in 2009 but only 10 to 15 percent in 2010, Kevin Wale, president of GM's China operations, told Reuters in an interview on the sidelines of the Guangzhou Autoshow.

"We've been changing the full-year forecast every month," said Wale, referring to the automaker's 2009 forecast.

China's auto market has been a major bright spot this year thanks to a raft of government incentives, including aggressive cuts in sales taxes on small cars, which will expire by the end of the year.

General Motors' China vehicle sales in October more than doubled from a year earlier to 166,911. The Detroit carmaker and joint ventures sold a total of 1.5 million vehicles in China from January to November.

Separately, the company is considering whether to increase its investments in Association of Southeast Asian Nations countries and in India, said Wale.

"We are looking to increase our performance in ASEAN and India as they are big markets and we don't have a lot of share there yet," he said. "So that's a big focus for us."

Wale said last month the U.S. automaker aims to grow faster than the overall China market next year as he believed Beijing will come up with additional steps to support the industry.

The company will continue to invest heavily in the country, said Wale. "We spend about a billion dollars a year (in China). We have been for the past two years and we expect to do that as we go forward."

Those investments will include new products, new capacity and R&D.

General Motors, which competes with Volkswagen AG (VOWG.DE) and others, planned to roll out 30 new or revamped models in China from 2009 to 2014, including 10 Buick and Chevrolet models due for launch this year and next.

Shanghai GM, its flagship car venture with SAIC Motor Corp (600104.SS), sold 548,707 vehicles in the first 10 months, up 46.5 percent.

SAIC-GM-Wuling, GM's commercial vehicle tie-up with SAIC and Liuzhou Wuling Automobile, sold 891,285 vehicles in the country in the first 10 months, up 65.9 percent.

It also has a tie-up with FAW Group called FAW-GM Light Duty Commercial Vehicle Co.

(Reporting by Alison Leung; Writing by Don Durfee; Editing by Ken Wills)