GM becomes a trendsetter in China

General Motors captured 9.4 percent of China's passenger vehicle market in the first 11 months of 2010, up from 9 percent in 2009. But the U.S. automaker still trails longtime leader Volkswagen AG in China.

The German automaker, which markets Volkswagen, Skoda and Audi brands, commands a whopping 16.6 percent share of the Chinese passenger vehicle market.

But GM has become a recognized leader among global players operating in China in two important market segments: subcompacts and small commercial vehicles.

GM is the first global automaker to launch a locally developed, inexpensive subcompact that caters to less affluent consumers in China's vast interior regions.

The model, the Chevrolet New Sail, went on sale in January 2010 and was mainly developed by Shanghai-based Pan Asia Technical Automotive Center, a joint venture of GM and Shanghai Automotive Industry Corp.

Prices start at 60,000 yuan, or about $9,066. It was China's top-selling subcompact in November with over16,000 sales.

The New Sail's success has prompted other automakers to follow suit. Honda Motor Co. and PSA Peugeot Citroen plan low-priced models for China.

GM, along with its Chinese partners, also has become a leader in building small commercial vehicles to take advantage of the country's low-cost production base.

SAIC-GM-Wuling Automobile Co., established in 2002, is a joint venture of SAIC, GM and Liuzhou Wuling Automotive Co. With technology and management support from GM, it is now China's largest micro commercial vehicle manufacturer with sales of more than 1 million minivans and micro trucks through November.

GM has a strong market position in China. It sold 1,022,042 Buick, Chevrolet and Cadillac units through November, up 49 percent from 2009.

With a broad product lineup and a clear management and marketing vision, GM is well positioned to gain strength in China in 2011.

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