December sales in GM’s largest market China are likely to be less than exhilarating. The indicator: GM’s Chinese joint venture partner SAIC told Reuters that its December auto sales rose 7.1 percent from a year earlier to 350,380 vehicles.
This is much less than the 16.9 percent growth achieved in November. In the same month, GM’s China sales were up 9.7 percent.
December usually is a strong month for car sales in China, any slacking off is seen as a bad sign.
Translating SAIC’s numbers into GM takes a little work, and it won’t be perfect. SAIC more or less makes half of its sales with GM products, and half with Volkswagen units. SAIC’s own brands hardly register. In 2012, Shanghai GM sold 1.39 million vehicles, up 13.1 percent from a year earlier. Sales at Shanghai Volkswagen rose 9.8 percent to 1.28 million vehicles.
Executives at major carmakers in China have a cautious outlook for 2013, Reuters says. Most expect slow single-digit growth, a repeat of 2012. They blame the economy, the Japan row, and restrictions of cars sales in major Chinese cities.
Remember: What’s bad for China is bad for GM. (And the rest of them.) GM is expected to report December China sales this coming week.