GM posts first China sales growth in two years


General Motors has seen its China vehicle sales grow by 12 percent year on year in July-September as the market gradually recovered from the COVID-19 pandemic, marking its first Chinese quarterly sales growth in two years. 

The second-biggest foreign automaker in China by units after Germany's Volkswagen AG said on Monday it delivered 771,400 vehicles in China in the third quarter. That followed a five-percent fall in the second quarter, when parts of China were still emerging from virus-busting lockdown measures.

GM has a Shanghai-based joint venture with SAIC Motor, making Buick, Chevrolet and Cadillac vehicles. It has another venture, SGMW, with SAIC and Guangxi Automobile Group that produces no-frills minivans and has started manufacturing higher-end cars.

Sales rose by 26 percent for cars under its mass-market Buick brand in the third quarter versus the same period a year earlier, while those of premium brand Cadillac jumped by 28 percent, GM said in a statement. Sales of its mass-market Chevrolet marque fell by 20 percent.

"GM's compact models returned to four-cylinder engines, and that helped sales growth," said LMC Automotive senior analyst Alan Kang, referring to an attempt to market cleaner but noisier three-cylinder versions. "Cadillac also has a more complete lineup this year."

GM's sales fell by 15 percent in 2019 from a year earlier to 3.09 million vehicles. The automaker delivered 3.65 million vehicles in 2018 and 4.04 million in 2017.

China's biggest automakers' association expects overall car sales to grow by double digits in July-September versus a year earlier. 

The country's auto market has rapidly recovered from the COVID-19 crash in recent months. China's auto sales rose by 11.6 percent in August from a year earlier, the fifth straight rise after plunging during the lockdown.

(With input from Reuters)