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GM says ready to compete in China mass car market

2010-11-12 10:01

HONG KONG - General Motors Co will launch its new Baojun brand cars this month to capture growth at the low-end of the Chinese market, competing with domestic makers such as Geely, Chery and BYD, said its China chief on Thursday.

The Baojun brand, which is made by GM's SAIC-GM-Wuling Automotive Co joint venture, will be introduced later in November and is scheduled to hit the market next year, said Kevin Wale, president and managing director of GM's China operations.

GM, the battered US auto giant, made inroads into the mass car market in China in January by rolling out the Chevrolet New Sail autos, made by its China venture with SAIC Motor Corp.

"The Baojun will be a full range of products that is targeting the low end of the segment," Wale told Reuters.

Sales of the low-end segment of China, the world's largest auto market, are around 5 million units or nearly one-third of China's total sales, he estimated.

The mass car market has been dominated by homegrown auto makers including Chery Automobile, Geely Automobile Holdings Ltd and Warren Buffett-backed BYD Co Ltd.

"We will compete against the Geelys, the Cherys and the BYDs with the Baojun brand," Wale said.

Wale would not give a price tag for the Baojun brand cars but the New Sail was priced as low as 56,800 yuan.

GM plans to export Sails to Chile and other Latin American countries but Baojun would initially focus on the China market.

China has become the largest single market for GM since the first half of 2010, when it surpassed its home market in terms of volume.

Wale expects GM's China sales could reach 2.3 million units this year, up about 26 percent from 2009, occupying 13.5 percent of the China market.

GM is in the final stage of talks to sell equity to long-time Chinese partner SAIC in conjunction with its landmark initial public offering, two people familiar with the matter told Reuters.


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