GM China sales drop 4% in May

Melissa Burden
The Detroit News

General Motors Co. said Thursday its sales in China declined for the second straight month as the automaker and its joint ventures reported sales of 252,567 vehicles in May, down 4 percent from May 2014.

The automaker blamed the drop in its largest sales market on vehicle model changeovers and phasing out of older vehicles.

In May, GM’s joint venture with SAIC Motor Corp. cut prices on 40 vehicles across the Buick, Chevrolet and Cadillac lineup, following moves by several automakers. LMC Automotive said that China’s light vehicle market in March began to show signs it was slowing and automakers began to cut vehicle prices.

In May, Buick brand sales fell 12.9 percent to 62,601 vehicles, Chevrolet sales were down 2.2 percent to 50,021 vehicles and Wuling brand sales dropped 11.7 percent to 109,998 vehicles. Baojun brand sales increased 293.8 percent, while sales for its Cadillac luxury brand set a May record in China, up 10.9 percent from May 2014.

“China’s vehicle market continues to grow at a moderate pace,” GM China President Matt Tsien said in a statement. “We expect about 6-8 percent annual growth, which is significant given the size of the world’s largest passenger vehicle market.”

GM’s April sales in China were down 0.4 percent year-over-year.

The carmaker said its sales to retail customers showed an improved mix of SUVs and multi-purpose vehicles in May, together up 21.8 percent.

“We continue to respond to shifting consumer preferences with more new products in the high-growth SUV, MPV and luxury segments, including the Baojun 560 and Buick Envision, as well as the Buick Verano and new Chevrolet Malibu sedans,” Tsien said in a statement. “In addition, we are increasing production to meet demand for the popular Envision.”

Through May this year, GM and joint ventures had record sales to retail customers in China of 1.47 million vehicles, up 5.1 percent year-over-year.

Last year, GM and joint ventures sold more than 3.5 million vehicles in China.

mburden@detroitnews.com