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GM, SAIC open new car plant in China despite 'tough times'
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General Motors and its China partner Shanghai Automative Industry Corporation (SAIC) launched a car plant on Wednesday in northeast China, making it one of the three production bases of Chevrolet Cruze cars in the world.

As the second joint venture by GM and SAIC in Shenyang, the capital of northeast China's Liaoning Province, the new plant involves a total investment of 2.67 billion yuan (about US$390.6 million), and will churn out 150,000 units per year. It will begin full production of Chevrolet Cruze compacts in the second quarter of 2009.

GM and Chrysler LLC are seeking US$14 billion in emergency aid from the U.S. government to keep operating through the first quarter. However, Kevin Wale, president and managing director of GM China, expressed his confidence in GM's future development in China. "GM will not slow down its development in China despite the tough times", Wale said.

"Automobile companies are facing a cold winter, but despite hibernating, we must learn to swim in the winter," said Hu Maoyuan, president of SAIC.

Hu added that the auto industry would have a "sustainable development" if the companies would "tap their potential and collaborate with their partners, matching manufacturers, and the regional economics".

GM's first plant in Shenyang with SAIC makes the Buick GL8 and the Buick First Land minivan, with an annual production capacity of50,000 units.

Ding Lei, general manager of Shanghai GM, said the new plant would lay a firm foundation for Shanghai GM's new ten-year development, together with the other two production bases in Shanghai Jinqiao District and Yantai of Shandong Province.

GM's sales in China reached 590,126 units in the first half of 2008, 12.7 percent higher than that of 2007.

Wale said earlier this month in a forum in Beijing that GM expected to sell 1.2 million vehicles in China next year, and planned to introduce ten models into the Chinese market by 2011.

(Xinhua News Agency December 18, 2008)

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