GM Sales Growth in China Slows as Deliveries of Buicks Drop

General Motors Co., the biggest foreign automaker in China, reported its slowest sales growth in the country in eight months as deliveries of Buicks and Cadillacs declined.

Deliveries of cars and minivans climbed 1.7 percent to 244,266 units in September, the Detroit-based automaker said in a statement on its website today. Sales of Cadillacs fell for a sixth straight month, according to monthly figures posted on GM’s website.

The U.S. carmaker didn’t benefit from anti-Japan sentiment in China over disputed islands that led to a boost in sales of non-Japanese brands such as Hyundai Motor Co. and Kia Motors Corp. GM has outperformed China’s industry average this year as it opened more dealerships in the country, a key market to the company retaining its title as the world’s largest automaker after it was outsold by Toyota Motor Corp. in the first half.

Sales of Buicks fell 1.8 percent in September after climbing 2.8 percent in August, while Cadillac sales dropped 8.3 percent last month, GM said.

Hyundai and affiliate Kia’s combined deliveries in China rose to 127,827 units last month, or 9.5 percent more than the previous record set a year earlier, Seoul-based Hyundai said in a statement yesterday. The two South Korean carmakers will probably sell more vehicles in 2012 than the 1.25 million they had projected, it said.

GM’s total sales for the first nine months of this year to dealerships in China rose 10 percent to 2.08 million units, according to the statement.

Sales of SAIC-GM-Wuling Automobile Co., the venture that makes Wuling mini-commercial vehicles, gained 0.4 percent to 119,510 units last month, it said. Deliveries at FAW-GM Light Commercial Vehicle Co., the venture with FAW Group Corp., fell 5 percent to 4,581 units.

Chevrolet sales rose 3.2 percent to 56,166 units, a record for the month, GM said.

Slowing Economy

Average passenger-vehicle prices have fallen every month this year as dealerships increased discounts to reduce a glut of inventory, according to National Development and Reform Commission data in September.

Sales in the world’s largest vehicle market have slowed alongside the economy, with data showing industrial output in August increased at the slowest pace in three years.

China’s economy may expand 7.7 percent this year, according to the median forecast of 45 economists in a Bloomberg survey, which would be the slowest rate since 1999. The data is scheduled to be released Oct. 18.

While sales growth has stalled the past two years, high savings rates and pent-up demand mean Chinese consumers are expected to buy 25.5 million vehicles annually three years from now, according to the average forecast of IHS Automotive, Macquarie Equities Research and the Economist Intelligence Unit.

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