General Motors Co., the largest foreign automaker in China, has named Tim Lee as the chairman of its Chinese unit as the U.S. company gears up for expansion in the world’s largest auto market.
Lee, who was the head of GM’s international operations, will oversee 12 joint ventures and more than 55,000 employees in the newly created position, the Detroit-based company said in a statement on its website. Lee, 62, will keep his position as executive vice president of global manufacturing, with Bob Socia, president of GM China, reporting to him.
“China obviously is a priority for a high-ranking executive to be here,” said Yale Zhang, a Shanghai-based managing director of auto consultancy Autoforesight Shanghai Co. “It shows the importance of this market to GM.”
GM sold 2.84 million autos in China last year, making the country its biggest single market, and expects to deliver 3 million vehicles this year. The U.S. automaker is spending $11 billion by 2016 on new plants and products in China and is building four assembly plants there to boost its production capacity to five million vehicles a year by 2015.
“We are also in the midst of the most aggressive product rollout in our history,” Chief Executive Officer Dan Akerson said in the statement. “Tim is critical to building on our success in China and to ensuring flawless vehicle launches around the globe.”
Lee joined GM in 1969 and is also on the supervisory board of Opel, GM’s European unit.
GM also named Stefan Jacoby to the position of executive vice president of Consolidated International Operations, which cover more than 100 countries and territories, according to the statement. Jacoby, 55, was replaced as global CEO of Volvo Cars last October by Hakan Samuelsson.
Besides Volvo Cars, Jacoby has also worked at Mitsubishi Motors Corp., where he was the chief of global sales, and at Volkswagen AG, the company said.
GM rose 1.3 percent to $36.95 at the close in New York. The shares have gained 28 percent this year, compared with a 20 percent climb for the Standard & Poor’s 500 Index.