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GM sales rise to a record high

GENERAL Motors Corp sales in China rose 38 percent to a record high in the first half of the year because of growing rural markets and small-vehicle sales boosted by the government's stimulus packages, the company said yesterday.

GM sold a record 814,442 vehicles in the first six months, helped by its Wuling minivans, Buick sedans and its new Chevrolet Cruze compact car, GM said.

"China's vehicle market has benefited from government's stimulus policies and kept the growth momentum thanks to booming demand in smaller cities and rural areas," said Kevin Wale, president and managing director of GM China Group.

China offered subsidies to vehicle buyers in rural areas and cut purchase tax by half on cars with engines of 1.6 liters and below in a bid to revive the flagging industry.

The China Passenger Car Association earlier predicted that vehicle sales in the country would grow 17 percent this year from 2008, outpacing the 6.7 percent rise last year, the first single-digit figure rise since 1999.

The biggest foreign auto maker in China said its minivan business would continue to lead the market because of the favorable policies covering small-engined vehicles.

GM's minivan venture, SAIC-GM-Wuling Automobile Co, posted an increase of 49.9 percent in sales to a record 524,598 vehicles in the first six months.

"Vehicle sales in China will remain strong in the second half of this year. And the introduction of Cadillac hybrid sport utility vehicle Escalade as well as new models under the Buick plate will fuel the company's sustainable growth," Wale said.

Within five years, GM expects to double sales to 2 million units and launch more than 30 new models in China.


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