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GM may raise sales forecast for China

DESPITE the company's troubles in the United States, General Motors Corp's China unit may increase its growth target for 2009 after sales jumped 75 percent last month from a year before, President and Managing Director Kevin Wale said yesterday.

Wale also noted that GM is planning to build another plant in China in the next five years to help achieve its goal of selling 2 million cars here within five years. Details were not released.

"We see the strong sales momentum to continue in the next couple months. We need to increase the production capabilities with the growing sales," Wale said.

The company will consider raising its full-year sales target from 10 percent if growth momentum continues in June, Wale said.

GM sold 156,363 vehicles in China in May, exceeding the record 151,084 units in April, the company said. Sales for the first five months rose 33.8 percent.

Recovery track

"The auto market is obviously on the recovery track thanks to both government stimulus measures and the vast inland market," said Wang Zhihui, an analyst at Shenyin Wanguo Securities Co. "The purchasing power in the interior has been less affected by the financial crisis and benefited from the measures," which include tax breaks for smaller-engine vehicles.

Wale's remarks came during a news media briefing in Shanghai yesterday, a day after the auto maker filed for bankruptcy protection in the US. GM said the US action will not influence its existing China operations and expansion plans.

"GM's China business is little affected by the US bankruptcy in the short term as business operations including suppliers, dealers and after-sale services remain sound," said Lang Xuehong, director of the automotive division at consulting firm Sinotrust. "The long-term perspective depends on the condition of the new GM. But it is very probably on a good path."

GM expects to launch more than 30 new models in China, some of which will target niche markets it has not yet exploited.

GM is profitable in China and well positioned in terms of liquidity, which enables the company to self-fund new projects, Wale said. He also said GM China is likely to expand exports in the future.


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