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GM China Growth Slowest in 17 Months; Ford Sales Gain

Sept. 2 (Bloomberg) -- General Motors Co., the biggest overseas automaker in China, said sales growth fell in August to the slowest rate in at least 17 months after government stimulus measures wore off.

GM and its Chinese joint ventures last month sold 181,625 units, or 19.2 percent more vehicles than a year earlier, in the world’s largest auto market, the company said in an e-mailed statement today. Ford Motor Co. said its China August sales, including commercial vehicles, rose 24 percent to 44,047 units.

Economic uncertainty and the waning impact of last year’s stimulus measures may have kept car buyers away from China dealerships, while the strong sales a year earlier made it harder for GM to maintain previous rates of growth. The company’s deliveries in the nation more than doubled to 152,365 vehicles in August 2009 as tax cuts and other incentives raised sales.

“The Chinese market continues to be strong for us,” Tim Lee, GM’s president of international operations, said in Bangkok, Thailand, today. “GM will grow with the market. That means our manufacturing and distribution capacity has to grow.”

GM, which is preparing for an initial public offering that may raise as much as $16 billion, makes the Buick Excelle and Chevrolet Cruze in China with its joint-venture partner SAIC Motor Co. GM’s passenger-car venture with SAIC sold 81,067 units last month, the venture said on its website yesterday.

Sunshine Minivans

The company also makes Sunshine minivans at SAIC-GM-Wuling Automotive Co., another joint venture in which the U.S. automaker has a 34 percent stake. SAIC-GM-Wuling sold 95,119 vehicles in China in August, which represented year-on-year growth of 7.2 percent, GM said today.

Sales of GM-brand vehicles reached 1.57 million in the first eight months of the year. In July, GM’s China sales rose 22 percent.

GM, based in Detroit, said sales of its Cadillac luxury brand rose 178 percent in August to 1,624 units.

The growth in China contrasts with GM’s home market. The carmaker’s U.S. sales last month fell 25 percent to 185,176 from 246,479 a year before, when the U.S. government’s “cash for clunkers” incentive program boosted sales.

GM’s sales increased as China raised a tax on small cars to 7.5 percent from 5 percent and took steps to cool the economy. Growth domestic product grew 10.3 percent in the second quarter from a year earlier, down from 11.9 percent in January to March.

Ford, based in Dearborn, Michigan, said China sales accelerated in July as it sold more Ford Transit vans and Focus cars. The company’s China total vehicle sales rose 8 percent to 38,033 units last month.

Changan Ford Mazda Automobile Co., Ford’s passenger-car joint venture in China, sold 28,475 units last month, reversing a 6.3 percent decline in July.

Ford also makes commercial vehicles with Jiangling Motors Corp., a partnership in which it owns a 30 percent stake. That venture sold 15,572 units in August.

To contact Bloomberg News staff for this story: Liza Lin in Shanghai at

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Kae Inoue at

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