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General Motors Acknowledges Slower Growth in China, Keeps Goal

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May 16 (Bloomberg) -- General Motors Co. said slowing growth in China won’t prompt the company, the largest overseas automaker in the nation, to revise its 2010 sales forecast.

GM sales in China will exceed 2 million vehicles this year, said Kevin Wale, president of the company’s China operations, in Ningbo, China, reiterating an earlier projection. Carmakers will sell a combined 15.5 million vehicles in China in 2010, he said.

China’s monthly car-sales growth slowed in April to the lowest level since March 2009 amid rising consumer and property prices. Sales of cars, sport-utility vehicles and multipurpose vehicles increased 33 percent to 1.11 million from a year earlier, compared with a 63 percent jump in March, the China Association of Automobile Manufacturers said on May 10.

Slowing growth is “a natural part of the industry cycle,” Wale said today at a conference in Ningbo, a city in the eastern part of China. “People need to manage it so they don’t end with excess inventory. The market is still very strong. Underlying demand is very strong.”

China, which overtook the U.S. as the world’s biggest auto market last year, has become GM’s largest market. The carmaker aims to sell 3 million vehicles a year in China by 2015. It plans to introduce 25 new or updated models in the country by the end of 2011.

In April, Detroit-based GM sold 213,115 vehicles in China. The company and its ventures sold 1.83 million vehicles in the country last year.

The Chinese car market is “stabilizing, it’s not continuing to grow at the rapid rate” of last year, Wale said. “It’s going to be a good year for the industry, and a good year for General Motors” in China.

To contact Bloomberg News staff for this story: Mark Lee in Hong Kong at wlee37@bloomberg.net; Liza Lin in Singapore at Llin15@bloomberg.net

To contact the editors responsible for this story: Kae Inoue at kinoue@bloomberg.net

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