General Motors on Monday said that continued market recovery from the coronavirus crisis has helped its China vehicle sales increase 12% on year in July-September, marking the American automaker’s first Chinese quarterly sales growth in two years.
General Motors is the second-biggest foreign automaker in China by units – after Germany’s Volkswagen.
GM said on Monday that it made deliveries of 771,400 vehicles in China in the third quarter. That followed a 5% decline in the second quarter when parts of China were still emerging from virus-led lockdown measures.
GM has a Shanghai-based joint venture with SAIC Motor making Buick, Chevrolet, and Cadillac vehicles. It has one more venture, SGMW, with SAIC and Guangxi Automobile, producing no-frills mini-vans and which has started producing higher-end cars.
Sales increased 26% for cars under its mass-market Buick brand in the third quarter against the same period one year ago, while those of premium brand Cadillac increased 28%, GM said in a statement. Sales of its mass-market Chevrolet marque dropped 20%.
Sales of no-frills brand Wuling increased 26%, while those of mass-market Baojun vehicles fell 19%.
“GM’s compact models returned to four-cylinder engines and that helped sales growth,” said LMC Automotive senior analyst Alan Kang, referring to an attempt to market cleaner but noisier three-cylinder versions. “Cadillac also has a more complete lineup this year.”
China’s biggest automakers’ association expects total car sales to increase by double digits in July-September against one year ago. Automakers such as Toyota Motor, Honda Motor and Geely Automobile Holdings experienced a sales increase in the just-finished quarter.
GM has seen its China sales decline in a crowded market and a declining economy. To revive its profits, it prepares to have electric vehicles (EVs) comprise more than 40% of new models in the next five years in China, where the government promotes eco-friendly cars.
GM’s sales dropped 15% in 2019 from a year ago to 3.09 million vehicles. The automaker made deliveries of 3.65 million vehicles in 2018 and 4.04 million in 2017.