GM China Sales Fall in April on Buick, Chevrolet Slump

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General Motors Co. reported a decline in deliveries in China after demand slumped for its Buick and Chevrolet brands, while Ford Motor Co. said its sales were little changed.

GM and its joint ventures sold 258,484 vehicles in April in China, a 0.4 percent drop from a year earlier, the company said in a release. Ford sold 96,889 units last month, 60 more than a year earlier, as a slump in commercial-vehicle demand offset a gain in passenger-car deliveries.

Foreign automakers have come under increasing pressure in China as economic growth slows in the world’s largest auto market and local brands gain market share by offering cheaper SUVs. Vehicle registrations are also being affected by more cities imposing purchase restrictions to tackle congestion and air pollution.

“The momentum for auto sales is slowing down, it’s getting tougher for foreign automakers,” said Lin Huaibin, a Shanghai-based analyst at researcher IHS Automotive.

Chevrolet deliveries dropped 5.6 percent last month, while Buick sales slumped 8.5 percent, according to the company. Demand for Wuling-brand vehicles also fell 5.1 percent.

GM’s premium Cadillac brand rose 4.6 percent to 6,197 vehicles, while its low-cost Baojun brand almost quadrupled due to its 730 multipurpose vehicle. The MPV segment has outpaced industry growth, increasing 19 percent in sales in the first quarter of the year.

Retail Sales

The automaker switched to reporting retail sales starting last month. GM’s wholesale deliveries fell 0.8 percent in the first two months of this year.

GM in an e-mailed response said it could not immediately provide historical figures for retail sales in China.

The China market is getting increasingly competitive, GM China President Matt Tsien told reporters in Shanghai last month. His view was echoed by Volkswagen AG’s head of China operations, Jochem Heizmann, who told shareholders earlier this week that market growth is slowing and price pressure will intensify.

GM is investing $16 billion by 2020 with SAIC Motor Corp. to compete for market share in China. The spending comes as China’s passenger vehicle sales are expected to rise by less than the 7 percent projected in January, the state-backed China Association of Automobile Manufacturers said last month, without making a new forecast.

— With assistance by Alexandra Ho

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