Did we say „duh“ when GM China announced plans to make more than 2m cars in China this year, the first foreign joint venturer to do so? When they said that, they already had 1,976,913 units in the can, and nobody did doubt that GM would find the 23,087 buyers to reach the 2m. Well, a few days later, they found them.
Last Thursday, GM became the first international automaker to sell 2 million vehicles in a year in China, Global Times reports.
What did Kevin Wale GM China’s president and managing director, have to say to this? “This is another important milestone for General Motors in China.” What else should he say?
Well, let’s add our 2 yuan.
- The numbers illustrate GM’s dependence on the Chinese market. Not only is China the world’s largest car market (and it barely has started). It is also GM’s largest, dwarfing sales at home. It is no coincidence that GM International is being ruled from Shanghai.
- The numbers also are as genuine as a Gucci bag in Beijing’s silk market. Around a million of the two million cars GM allegedly sold in China are Wulings, small and cheap vans, made by a three-way joint venture between Wuling, SAIC and GM. GM has a 37 percent share in the business, but is contractually entitled to count 100 percent of the cars as theirs.
I can hear the Chinese snicker: “Those crazy Americans. But let them, if they insist. Who cares as long as we make and sell the cars?” GM can crow as much as they want that they are China’s largest, it’s a bogus claim. With the Wuling vans removed, the real world looks a bit different.
According to official J.D.Power data, published by Automotive News [sub], China’s largest passenger vehicle brand is Volkswagen, which had sold 1,096,571 cars in the first nine months. A distant number 2 is (surprise!) Toyota with 579,966 cars. Followed by Hyundai (536,813, watch out, Toyota), Nissan (512,371), and Honda (475,695). Buick lands on #7 with 401,408 cars. Chevrolet (382,622 units) comes after BYD (386,214). Ironic: Chevy is in the same league as Chery (369,622 units.)
Even if we don’t play the brand game, VW comes out on top. Volkswagen, Audi and Skoda together sold 1,409,153 units in the first nine months, Buick and Chevy 784,030. (J.D. Power doesn’t deliver Cadillac numbers. Never mind, we won’t count Bentley, Bugatti and Lamborghini either.)
Somehow, I don’t think these data will feature big in the IPO prospectus.