General Motors’ first-quarter China car sales fell 43 percent

General Motors

General Motors vehicle sales in China dropped 43.3% in the first three months of this year compared with the same period in 2019, the company stated on Friday, as the coronavirus pandemic declined demand in the world’s biggest auto market.

The coronavirus pandemic originated in China and has killed 3,329 people in China. Though these figures have been heavily rejected by experts, the pandemic ultimately caused the government to lock down parts of the country in order to control the spread. The restrictions contributed to a 79% decline in overall auto sales in February following a 19% drop in January.

General Motors, the country’s second-biggest foreign automaker, delivered 461,716 vehicles in the first quarter, the automaker stated. The first quarter drop came after a second straight decline in annual sales in last year.

GM has a joint venture in the country with SAIC Motor which manufactures Buick, Chevrolet and Cadillac vehicles. It has another venture, SGMW, with SAIC and Guangxi Automobile, that produces no-frills minivans and has started to make luxury cars.

Sales of GM’s mass-market brand Chevrolet declined 54.7% for the recent quarter, while sales of the no-frills brand Wuling dropped 34.3%. Premium brand Cadillac’s sales dropped 40%.

Amid the sales slowdown, GM and its dealers are attempting to woo back lockdown-weary consumers through uncommon advertising campaigns, including using a makeup-promoting personality to promote car leasing. The SGMW venture also provides free medical masks to consumers.

GM has launched one new Chevrolet electric model in China this year and prepares to offer four-cylinder engines in certain models presently offered only with the smaller engines.

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