By on February 5, 2013


Needs a lift

Three days ago, I showed you how to become a clairvoyant without even trying, or just by reading TTAC.  If you followed my simple method of predicting the Chinese market in January and February, you could now collect on your first bet. GM, our patent-pending sales oracle for the Chinese market reports humongous sales, and an “all-time record month in China.” Is that the big turn-around?

Forgetting to say what the nice man from Toyota had told Reuters, namely that January numbers are complete off-kilter due to the Chinese New Year, GM celebrates a new record.  After Toyota had announced a 23.5 percent January gain in China, only months after one did risk life and car when caught with a Japanese car on China’s streets, GM announced a 26 percent increase for January.

This was doubly easy. First, because of the CNY-effect, explained on Saturday.  And second, because January 2011 (again, Chinese New Year at work) was so bad that GM had to employ is best spinmeisters to hide it. Compared with that month, all car sales news coming from China will be glorious, trust me. Just like February will be awful, trust me.

GM China January 2013
Jan’13 YoY
GM China 310,765 26.0%
Shanghai GM 154,220 24.3%
Buick 86,509 21.7%
Chevrolet 66,141 21.6%
Cadillac 1,570 -47.4%
SAIC-GM-Wuling 151,819 26.6%
Wuling 144,801 35.9%
Baojun 7,018
FAW-GM 4,490 84.5%
Black: GM data. Blue: Calculated from historical GM data

Despite generous help from the Chinese calendar, not everything is rosy. Cadillac sales are half of what they were in that horrible January 2012, a fact that GM tries to conceal. For each brand GM gives us a positive percentage number down to one decimal. For Cadillac, we are told: ”Cadillac luxury vehicle sales in China totaled 1,570 units in January.” There is no comparison. Someone who has been covering GM for a while knows: No percentage given, that means it’s a disaster. It is, Cadillac sales in China are down 47.4 percent.

Unimaginable what the GM press release will look like when the numbers for a (percentage-wise) truly horrible February will be announced next month. I recommend extending the Chinese New Year vacation.

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12 Comments on “You Saw It Coming: GM’s China Sales Wayyyyyyyyy Up! Except For …....”

  • avatar

    Hold on, is that a picture of a 93-96 Fleetwood parked somewhere in China?

    Not that I would want to advocate intellectual property infringement or anything, but that needs to make it’s way into some small automaker’s R&D shop, like right now.

  • avatar

    Much of this may have to do with the import tariffs, I thought I read something on TTAC about the majority of volume being SRX which of course is assembled in Mexico.

    I don’t think it would hurt though to build good old American style Cadillacs again, if only for Chinese consumption. I would imagine the potential Cadillac buyer in China can equally afford actual BMWs (or BMW style sport sedans), why buy the ‘Cadillac’ copy? Does ‘Cadillac’ even offer an acceptable LWB variant, which seem to be all the rage in China, of the models they do offer?

    • 0 avatar
      sunridge place

      Cadillac will soon be building XTS and ATS in China which will allow their sales to increase in China.

      TTAC writers often link to their past stories for reference. Not sure why Bertel chose to not link to these stories or why he chose to ignore the obvious fact that Cadillac doesn’t build there yet and, thus, has low sales.

      • 0 avatar

        Thx for the info, should be interesting to see how those models do. I’d also like to see if there’s a LWB variant of the XTS in the works, from what I understand the upper class employ chauffeurs and the XTS I saw recently here in the states didn’t have the most inviting rear accommodations.

      • 0 avatar
        sunridge place

        The XTS as it is has a pretty large backseat. They also have a stretched version…not sure if they are taking it to China…but they could if they want to.

      • 0 avatar
        doctor olds

        GM stopped building LWB STS, a China only model. Not sure what volume, but drop from 3,000 to 1,500 is at least in part due to sparse model lineup. we’ll see how the new models do. Escalade is very expensive there!
        A CTS coupe sells for $104,000 in China. SRX, the cheapest Cadillac there sells for $69,000 and the Escalade is $255,000. These price vehicles do not get much volume anywhere.

      • 0 avatar

        I took a LWB Deville last year from the airport which was surprisingly more comfortable in terms of leg room than I expected. I would expect XTS’ interior space to be similar to Deville’s, maybe it already is and the LWB treatment I had is throwing off my senses.

        Oh and thx for the second link Sunridge, the hearse looks a little WTF to me, but those rear doors look very accommodating, I could see men of prestige traveling in a sedan variant of it.

      • 0 avatar

        We rarely give a reason for ups or downs in these stat stories. It’s a well-known fact that imported cars carry high taxes in China. This does not stop S-Class, 7-Series, Audi A8 etc. Sure, the tariff on the Caddy are a big higher, but this needs to be taken up with the Steelworkers Union and their stupid tire fight.

      • 0 avatar

        The “why” would certainly be valuable to know — why did Cadillac drop 47%? If it’s because there are no cars (STS production ended) rather than customers not wanting to buy Cadillacs it’s quite a different thing.

        And the same would apply to, for example, the Golf model switchover in Europe.

      • 0 avatar
        sunridge place

        ‘We rarely give a reason for ups or downs in these stat stories’

        Bertel…you have given a reason for Toyota’s sales drop in China for months now. And, I agree its a story and I appreciate your insight on results and your thoughts on the future.

        That wasn’t my point here. You chose to single out a brand (Cadillac) that generally represents about 1% of sales from GM group sales in China as an outlier to make some kind of point.

        Perhaps your point was just to tweak the media release as skimming over a fact. If that’s the case, ok. But, GM is also very open compared to other OEMs about releasing fleet sales vs retail sales in the US etc and I don’t see you taking the same approach to Chrysler/VW/Toyota in their releases.

        If you can take the time to type out a few sentences singling out a brand result that is about 1% of the OEMs sales in a country…you should be able to type out a sentence or two of foundational facts.

        I think I’m treating you like a dinner guest and I apologize in advance if you think I’m telling you ‘what to write’ or ‘what not to write’

      • 0 avatar
        sunridge place

        So, I hit this story again to see if Bertel replied to my comment (which I didn’t expect)as I typically don’t want my email box hit with inbound emails for every comment on a thread and I re-read the article.

        Bertel. As a dinner guest, I might add something else after reading your post and serving you a nice dessert.

        Your criticism of GM bragging about an ‘all-time record’ month without acknowledging the year over year flaw when considering the Chinese New Year is yet another flaw in your analysis.

        GM wasn’t bragging about an all-time year over year lift (which would have been flawed.)

        They sold more vehicles in their group sales in China than any month EVER. They were NOT ignoring a year over year trend.

        Why did you imply that such a statement was deceptive due to a comparison against a previous year result that was impacted by a Chinese New Year slowdown?

        In a growing market, this sort of target (all time sales high) shouldn’t be a surprise. But, your statement:

        ‘Forgetting to say what the nice man from Toyota had told Reuters, namely that January numbers are complete off-kilter due to the Chinese New Year, GM celebrates a new record. ‘

        They celebrated an all-time group sales record for a month…any month…ever in China. Not a Jan 2012 vs Jan 2013 comparison.

        One could easily argue that your twisting of this fact for your own purposes is worse than a GM media statement ignoring a year over year comparison of a brand representing 1% of volume.

  • avatar

    I wonder how a Chinese-built 1975 Fleetwood Talisman clone would do?

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