GM China April Sales Accelerate as Toyota Extends Decline

General Motors Co. (GM), the largest foreign automaker in China, reported sales growth accelerated last month, while Toyota Motor Corp. (7203) saw its deliveries extend their slump in the world’s biggest car market.

GM sales climbed 15 percent to 261,870 units in April, after a 13 percent increase the preceding month, according to figures released today by the Detroit-based carmaker. Toyota reported sales fell 6.5 percent to 76,400 units, the ninth drop in 10 months.

GM saw sales of Buick and Chevrolet vehicles rise by more than 20 percent as the company seeks to keep its lead in China among foreign automakers for a ninth-straight year. That’s at the expense of Japanese automakers, who are still coping with the fallout of a territorial dispute that flared in September.

Toyota isn’t alone in reporting declines in China. Hiroshima, Japan-based Mazda Motor Corp. (7261) last week reported a 15 percent drop in April sales. Nissan Motor Co. said wholesale deliveries fell 8.5 percent, though retail sales rose.

Separately, Volvo Cars, the Swedish carmaker owned by Zhejiang Geely Holding Group Co., reported sales in the country rose 30 percent last month, making China its biggest market.

For GM, Cadillac sales surged 99 percent to a record 4,077 units, helped by the recently-introduced XTS model. GM has made sales of its luxury Cadillac brand a priority, with the aim of selling 100,000 units annually in 2015 and gaining 10 percent of the premium segment market share by 2020.

‘Cautiously Optimistic’

Overall, GM is “cautiously optimistic” that sales in China may reach 3 million units this year, Bob Socia, head of operations in the country, said last month. The company sold 2.84 million vehicles in China last year and targets to sell 5 million in the world’s biggest auto market by 2015.

GM is stepping up its efforts in China as it works to consolidate its position and fend off Volkswagen AG (VOW) in its largest market.

GM is spending $11 billion by 2016 on new plants, products and people in China, which includes adding four factories by 2015 to boost capacity to about 5 million units, Socia said in a news conference in Shanghai last month. At the same time, it aims to add 400 sales outlets this year, eventually hitting a total of 5,100 by 2015.

The company plans to introduce 17 new models in China this year, with the expansion to focus on SUVs and luxury models. GM is looking at bringing in nine new or refreshed SUVs in China over the next five years.

To contact Bloomberg News staff for this story: Alexandra Ho in Shanghai at aho113@bloomberg.net; Tian Ying in Beijing at ytian@bloomberg.net

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Young-Sam Cho at ycho2@bloomberg.net

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