General Motors Co. sales in China, where it is the largest foreign automaker, rose 11 percent from a year earlier to a record for March led by demand for vehicles including the Buick Excelle and Chevrolet New Sail.
Deliveries of cars and Wuling minivans increased to 257,944 units last month, the company said on its website today. Unit sales for the three months ending March jumped 8.7 percent to 745,152 units, a record, according to the statement.
GM is counting on growth in China to maintain its lead over Toyota Motor Corp. and Volkswagen AG as the world’s biggest automaker. The Detroit-based carmaker attracted buyers with the Malibu mid-sized sedan rolled out in February, while first-time purchasers bought cars even though the economy slowed, said John Zeng, LMC Automotive’s Shanghai-based director of Asian forecasting.
“Our new models such as the Chevrolet Malibu have gotten off to a solid start, complementing the ongoing strength of established products such as the Buick Excelle, Chevrolet Cruze and Cadillac SRX,” Kevin Wale, president and managing director of the GM China Group, said in an e-mailed statement.
Sales of the Malibu totaled 4,289 units in its first full month on the market, according to the statement.
Shanghai General Motors, which makes Buick and Chevrolet vehicles in China, boosted sales by 11 percent to 110,038 units in March. SAIC-GM-Wuling Automotive Co., the venture that makes mini commercial vehicles used to transport goods and people, boosted deliveries by 12 percent to 139,768, according to the statement.
The two SAIC joint ventures are the Detroit-based automaker’s two largest partnerships in China. GM also has a joint venture with FAW Group that makes commercial vehicles, which had sales of 7,417 units during the month.
“When the economy slows, people tend to delay replacing their cars,” LMC Automotive’s Zeng said. “But 82 percent of the car buyers in China are first-time buyers, and are still eager to buy.”