By on August 19, 2020


Sales of General Motors vehicles sank 15 percent in 2019 —  the automaker’s second straight year of annual sales pullback in that once promising market.

Maybe the product was the problem?

That seems to be GM’s thinking. On Wednesday, The General revealed its plan to capture market share in the world’s mos populous auto market with a raft of electric vehicles underpinned by its new modular electric vehicle platform, all powered by the company’s low-cobalt Ultium battery technology.

More than 40 percent of new-vehicle launches planned over the next five years will involve fully electric models, the automaker said. China will see a good measure of the $20 billion in EV investment GM has planned by the midpoint of the decade.

It’s not unlike GM’s plan for North America.

And it’s not just emissions-free driving that will tempt buyers in that EV-hungry market. By 2025, GM expects every Cadillac model to offer the brand’s Super Cruise driver-assist system, allowing for some hands-free motoring on China’s many superhighways. Buick and Chevrolet will then pick up the Level 2 torch. GM China boss Julian Blissett claimed in a video presentation that the next version of the system will take vehicles to the front door of their destination, rather than just to the off-ramp.

In addition to GM’s core brands, Chinese joint-venture marques Baojun and Wuling will see a similar electric surge.

“This market is rapidly electrifying. Cadillac is on a path to very heavy electrification. Buick is also going to heavily electrify,” Blissett told Reuters ahead of GM’s Tech Day event in Shanghai.

“The market is changing dramatically. So the concept of standing still in China doesn’t work.”


What form will these vehicles take, you ask? If you’re thinking it’ll be an SUV-heavy affair, you’d be correct. The automaker plans to add small, compact, and large EV utility vehicles, with the latter two sizes seeing a premium offering, in addition to a mainstream model. An electric pickup will also arrive, along with an electric commercial van, and inexpensive hatchback, a luxury sedan, and a shared autonomous vehicle.

The modular makeup of GM’s Ultium batteries and their unique cell chemistry means greater choice in configuration and packaging. GM can stuff a decent amount of range into even a small vehicle, boosting appeal among low-end and high-end shoppers alike. It also gives GM an advantage over rivals like Volkswagen —  or at least a fighting chance.

That said, the new platform and battery tech will only benefit GM’s coffers if it can get so-equipped cars out the door in large numbers.

“Our business is a high engineering cost, high capital cost business, so, without scale, it’s quite difficult to make money. We do need to return to that,” Blisset said.

[Images: General Motors]

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11 Comments on “Go Big or Go Home: GM Announces EV Offensive in China...”

  • avatar

    GM is wasting profits from American pickups and SUVs in an abortive attempt to succeed in China

    GM will not succeed in China because that’s not China’s plan

    China steals tech, assimilates it and shows the host the door

    smart companies are pulling out of China, it is a pariah totalitarian nation

    • 0 avatar

      “General Motors will help Honda develop its next two electric vehicles, due in North Amercian dealers by the 2024 model year. The Honda EVs will make use of GM’s proprietary Ultium battery technology and modular electric vehicle platform…” Motor1

  • avatar
    SCE to AUX

    “Our business is a high engineering cost, high capital cost business, so, without scale, it’s quite difficult to make money.”

    Tell that to Cadillac.

  • avatar

    “Ultium-ately we will win in China.” (They didn’t say that, but they should’ve.)

    [Has GM announced the new spelling for Buiq yet?]

  • avatar

    I predict in a decade just about every GM electric vehicle will be out of production due to poor sales. GM has a poor history selling electric vehicles and I don’t foresee things changing. Do you really think there is even a market for 10,000 electric hummers a year.

  • avatar

    Why is it taking GM at least the next 5 years to put these vehicles out? Nothing like being last to the party!

  • avatar

    I hope they succeed!

    Building EVs and making money by selling cars to China are both good things. I’d love to see them do one by doing the other.

    But, GM has seized defeat from the jaws of victory before….

  • avatar

    The Ultium battery is only wowee in GM’s eyes. It’s another LG Chemical lash-up, er, breakthrough. They’ll have to open up a Chinese factory to make them. The main GM electrification push in China is for the Wuling tiny van, from the sources I read. You know the ones GM counts twice to maintain its status as World Number 5 automaker or whatever it’s sunk to. GM is in a 50/50 venture with Wuling but counts all the output.

  • avatar
    Brett Woods

    Nothing else to do, so made this new-model brochure.

    Model: 2024 GMC/Wuling “Yumin” Electric retro-style mini SUV
    Two door with removable rear abs hardtop. Ground up EV tub and stamping.

    Rapid charging
    Part-time 4 wheel drive, traction control modes for rain, snow, hill, river & rock
    Integrated safety cell and anti-roll assistance
    110/240 volt outlet for lights, tools and camping

    General Specifications:
    L : 150 in
    WB: 95 in
    W: 72 in
    H: 66 in
    Wt: 2950 lbs
    Ground Clearance 10 in
    Suspension travel 8.5 in
    Tires wheel: 215/75 R16
    Motor 75 kW electric
    Battery: 50 kWh
    Top speed limited 85 mph
    Range: 195+ miles

    MRSP: $21 000 USD

    Sales goal 2024: 80 000 China, India, South America
    2500 Canada

  • avatar

    Go Big or Go Home

    There are two options there, GM.

    GM Announces Offensive EV in China
    Just don’t have Google Translate do your brochures, marketing materials or labels on the car, and it won’t be so offensive.

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