China became the largest automotive market in the world last year, and General Motors is the largest foreign automaker in China. In order to maintain its current leadership, GM plans on introducing 25 new or updated models by the end of next year.
GM set record sales volumes in March with over 230,000 vehicles sold in China. In order to maintain this sales pace, GM is going to introduce more fuel-efficient models in China as government incentives have spurred the growth of such models. GM says it will expand Chevrolet Volt sales to China in 2011 along with other hybrids, smaller displacement engines with turbochargers, and direct injection technologies.
According to GM’s estimates, the company and its local partners are on track to sell over 2 million vehicles in 2010 — four years ahead of schedule. GM originally planned on hitting the 2 million sales mark in 2014, but is now projecting it will surpass 3 million sales only one year later in 2015, as it anticipates sales of over 2 million vehicles this year. In March, GM saw its sales in China jump 68 percent year-to-year to 230,048 sales, around 42,000 more vehicles than GM sold in the U.S. in the same time period.
Although GM is setting record sales volumes in China, the Chinese auto industry is expanding just as rapidly. Industry sales in the first quarter jumped 76 percent year-to-year, according to the China Association of Automobile Manufacturers. Sales this year have been so strong, in fact, that Kevin Wale, president and managing director for GM China, expects over 15 million vehicles will be sold in China this year.
“If we have a strong wind behind us we might get to 16 million units for the industry in China in 2010,” Wales told The New York Times. Some analysts are predicting sales could even rise as high as 17 million units.