General Motors Corp.'s flagship China venture opened a new plant in Shanghai on Saturday that brought its nationwide production capacity to almost half a million units in an increasingly competitive market.
The new facility, part of GM's US$3 billion investment blueprint with its Chinese partners, is capable of churning out 160,000 medium-sized Buick Excelle sedans and could produce the Cadillac STS luxury sedan in the future.
Operations at the plant, located on the outskirts of Shanghai's financial district, began Saturday, the U.S. automaker said.
"There is no country more important than China for the auto market," said GM's Asia Pacific chief, Troy Clarke, at the opening ceremony for the plant.
Clarke said China's auto market would develop faster than any other market in the world in the next 10 years but did not elaborate.
The new facility doubles the venture's capacity in Shanghai to 320,000 units and brings its nationwide capacity to 480,000.
Global automakers including Ford Motor Co., Nissan Motor Co. Ltd. and Toyota Motor Corp. are investing US$15 billion to triple annual production in China to seven million cars by 2008, triggering fears of a glut.
China has been a rare bright spot for embattled GM, but the market began slowing in the middle of last year when China stepped up curbs on easy car loans and implemented other measures to cool the economy. Before that, sales averaged double-digit growth as the growing middle class took to the roads.
(Shenzhen Daily May 30, 2005)