GM China venture to export locally developed cars

HONG KONG Thu Oct 21, 2010 1:03am EDT

HONG KONG Oct 21 (Reuters) - General Motors Corp [GM.UL] said on Thursday it will export a low-end car it developed for China to Latin America, becoming the first international brand to use its China operations to tap growth in emerging markets.

Shanghai GM, a venture between GM and China's SAIC Motor Corp 6000104.SS, started to export Chevrolet New Sail autos on Thursday to Chile, the company said in a statement.

Rolled out in January in China, the New Sail, which comes under GM's Chevrolet brand, was priced as low as 56,800 yuan ($8,540), competing with domestic names like Geely Automobile Holdings (0175.HK) and Chery Automobile, which have developed a reputation for making cheap cars for price-sensitive buyers.

"The New Sail is the first locally developed and manufactured passenger car from an international brand to be exported," Terry Johnsson, Shanghai GM vice president of vehicle sales, service and marketing, said in a statement.

"It represents a breakthrough in our strategy to create products for China and other emerging markets," he said.

Plans are in place to sell the small family sedan to additional markets in South America, North Africa and the Middle East, Shanghai GM said.

Foreign automakers have been enjoying success in China, which surpassed the United States last year to become the world's largest auto market, and dominated the country's lucrative medium-to-high end segment.

However, analysts say more multi-national brands will be tempted to move towards the lower-end market, which provide a growth opportunity. ($1=6.651 Yuan) (Reporting by Alison Leung; Editing by Ken Wills)