GM China auto sales flat in June despite broad price cuts

An aerial picture shows new Chevrolet cars at a General Motors' parking lot in Shenyang, Liaoning province, China, June 28, 2015. REUTERS/Stringer

BEIJING (Reuters) - General Motors Co GM.N vehicle sales in China were roughly flat for June as broad price cuts introduced earlier in the year failed to boost demand.

GM and its Chinese joint-venture partners sold 246,066 cars in June, virtually unchanged from the same month a year ago, the U.S. automaker said in a statement on Monday.

That compares with a 4 percent year-on-year drop in May sales and a 0.4 percent dip in April, when the automaker switched to reporting retail sales rather than wholesale data for China.

GM has largely failed to counteract sluggish auto sales so far despite slashing prices on 40 models in May by up to 20 percent, as China’s economy grows at its slowest rate in 25 years. The automaker also faces rapidly shifting tastes among Chinese consumers, now showing a pronounced preference for small, affordable sport-utility vehicles.

“SUVs and MPVs (multi-purpose vehicles) are growing fast but that growth was offset by the segment shift - sales slowing in the sedan and mini-commercial vehicle market,” GM spokeswoman Irene Shen said.

In the first six months of the year, GM sold 1.72 million cars, up 4.4 percent from a year earlier.

For the market overall, sales for January to May rose only 2.1 percent from a year earlier, giving 2015 the slowest start since 2012, according to the most recent statistics available from the China Association of Automobile Manufacturers (CAAM).

CAAM is due to report June sales for the overall market on Friday.

Reporting by Jake Spring; Editing by Kenneth Maxwell