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GM to continue heavy investment, production in the Chinese market

By Li Fusheng China Daily Updated: 2020-06-08
Julian Blissett, president of GM China. [Photo/China Daily]

GM's commitment to China will not change and Sino-US relations will not affect its strategy as a company, said a senior executive at the United States' largest carmaker.

"What happens at the government level has almost no impact on our strategy at the company level," said Julian Blissett, president of GM China, in an online interview on Wednesday.

"GM is still committed to China, we are still investing extremely heavily in China. In products and technology, brand, or the overall company strategy, I don't see anything that has changed."

Blissett said it will make big investments in the next five years in all its five brands in China: Buick, Chevrolet, Cadillac as well as China-specific Wuling and Baojun.

He did not give an estimate of the amount of investment but said the carmaker will produce more models in China and procure parts from local suppliers as it enters an electrification campaign.

In March, GM said it would invest $20 billion by 2025 in electric and automated vehicles as it races to catch up with Elon Musk's Tesla.

"We have already established a good working relationship and supply agreement with (Chinese battery supplier) CATL," said Blissett. "We will work very closely with CATL in the future."

"We are not planning on importing any major components for new energy vehicles. The drive units, batteries, motors, etc, will be made locally in China," said Blissett.

GM is the second-most popular international carmaker in China, after Volkswagen. Last year, it delivered more than 3 million vehicles in the country, more than in the United States.

Blissett said GM is confident in the country's economy "short, medium and long-term".

He said a 6.8 percent fall in China's GDP in the first quarter of 2020 showed that COVID-19 had dealt a blow to the Chinese economy. But he added that the effect is far less powerful than in Europe and particularly the United States, thanks to the Chinese government's fast and effective response to the pandemic.

Blissett also said that China's move to set no economic growth target for 2020 is a "smart move" as there are many uncertainties.

He said the car market in China was hit hardest in February, when the coronavirus was at its peak in the country, but has since turned for the better.

GM said its sales in China fell 43.3 percent in the first three months of 2020 compared with the same period of 2019.

In April, its joint venture SAIC-GM, which manufactures Buick, Chevrolet and Cadillac vehicles, sold 111,155 vehicles, up 13.6 percent year-on-year. SAIC-GM-Wuling, a GM venture with SAIC and Guangxi Automobile Group, said its sales jumped 13.5 percent to more than 127,000 units in April.

"We are still not where we were a year ago but the tempo and the trajectory have been extremely positive," said Blissett.