GM May Expand in China Beyond Plans for Two New Factories

General Motors Co., the top-selling foreign automaker in China, said it’s looking at further expansion in the country, beyond previously announced plans for two new factories, even as the market slows.

“You need to stay ahead of the curve,” Bob Socia, president of GM China, told reporters yesterday at the North American International Auto Show in Detroit. “Are we ready to announce another plant? No, but clearly we’re looking at what we’re going to need to handle our expansion.”

GM opened two assembly plants in China last year, he said. Shanghai GM, its joint venture with SAIC Motor Corp., began construction of its fourth manufacturing base in Wuhan last year, while SAIC-GM-Wuling announced plans for a third plant in Chongqing.

Deliveries at GM and its Chinese joint ventures rose 11 percent to a record 2.84 million vehicles last year, the Detroit-based automaker said on its website yesterday. Volkswagen AG, which unlike GM includes Hong Kong in its China tallies, said deliveries climbed 24.5 percent to 2.81 million.

China’s auto market may increase to 21 million this year from 19.4 million in 2012, and GM aims to gain share, Socia said. A consensus is forming that sales may rise to as many as 30 million vehicles by 2020, he said.

GM exported 77,000 vehicles from China last year, an increase from about 3,000 in 2009, to about 15 different markets, including in South America and Africa, Socia said. The company expects exports could increase to 100,000 or more this year, he said.

GM has said it plans to boost deliveries in China to 5 million by 2015 and will focus on expanding its luxury Cadillac brand and sport-utility vehicle lineup. It may also sell the seventh-generation Chevrolet Corvette in China, Chief Executive Officer Dan Akerson said.