GM to Sell More Cars in China than U.S.

A General Motors official suggested this week that China could soon become the automaker’s number one market, a serious blow for a company that was once considered to be a barometer of the nation as a whole, and perhaps an even bigger blow for the millions of jobs that could be lost were that to happen.

Tim Lee, General Motors president of international operations, told reporters at the Detroit auto show that his company had a very good year in China, and he expects that to continue.

“We did very, very well,” he said, according to CNNMoney.com. “We don’t intend to stop with what we’ve done. We intend to grow.”

Indeed GM has done well in the Asian nation. GM now owns the largest share of the Chinese auto market at 13.4 percent, up from 11.3 percent in 2008.

Last year, GM’s sales in China soared by a whopping 67 percent to 1.8 million. U.S. sales, meanwhile, fell 30 percent over the same period.

Moreover, the move makes perfect sense for GM from a business standpoint. China is a massive nation of over one billion people, with a rapidly expanding middle class and a growing infrastructure to support a huge car fleet. In fact, China passed the U.S. in 2009 to become the world’s largest auto market.

According to reports, Chinese auto sales totaled 13.5 million last year, a 48 percent increase from 2008. U.S. sales, meanwhile, were down 21 percent from 2008, hitting a 27-year low of 10.4 million.

China’s newfound title as the world’s largest auto market is indicative of China’s meteoric rise economically. In the past year alone, China has passed Japan to become the world’s second largest economy and recently passed Germany to become the world’s largest exporter of goods.

Unfortunately for American autoworkers, most of the vehicles that GM sells in the Chinese market are manufactured there through a joint venture with Chinese company SAIC.

Lee, who runs GM’s China operations, said that there would be a spirited competition between the Chinese market and the North American market within the company in the coming years.

“I grew up in Ohio. I was an athlete and I always understood why you keep score. You figure out who wins and loses. I’ll be keeping score,” he told The Detroit News.

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