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GM plans new small car brand at SAIC-GM-Wuling

DETROIT – A new brand of small cars will be produced by General Motors’ China affiliate, SAIC-GM-Wuling in Liuzhou, GM’s Asia-Pacific president, Nick Reilly, confirmed in a press conference April 25.

Reilly’s statement followed disclosure April 22 by GM’s chief financial officer, Ray Young, that GM will be increasing its reliance on the Chinese market as it seeks to recoup globally after recent setbacks in North America and Europe.

SAIC-GM-Wuling has continued its emphasis on microvans for the China market as a GM subsidiary, leaving the car side mostly to the other China partner of GM, Shanghai Automotive Industry (Group) Corp. (SAIC)

But Reilly said that SAIC-GM-Wuling has been increasing its output of small Chevrolet cars for China, and that overall its production has soared tenfold to more than 500,000 vehicles annually.

With SAIC also holding an equity in SAIC-GM-Wuling, Reilly said, GM now is planning to ramp up Chinese production to source both domestic and other Asia markets.

GM’s step-up in China will be designed to increase revenues and profits overseas, in the aftermath of market reverses in Latin America, Russia and countries served by its Daewoo operation in South Korea, Reilly said.

GM data released in late April show that it expects vehicle production in China to exceed that in the U.S. this year. China’s output could narrow the gap with Japan, which built 10.1 million units in 2008, GM says.

Reilly said GM plans to boost its stake in SAIC-GM-Wuling to nearly 50 percent from about a third and will introduce “dozens” of new vehicles in China by 2015, including an edition of the Chevrolet Volt electric car.

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