GM has a plan to charge up Chevy Volt sales in China
General Motors China announced today that it has signed a memorandum of understanding with an important automotive technology organization recognized by the Chinese government. The China Automotive Technology and Research Center (CATARC) will manage GM’s fleet of demonstration Volts and will assist GM China in meeting certain objectives. These will include gaining the support of key decision makers crafting vehicle electrification policy in China. CATARC will also set up demonstrations of the vehicles and hold seminars to try to determine how the Volt and other electric vehicles can address the needs of the Chinese consumer. GM China’s executive director of Electrification Strategy, Ray Bierzynski, summed up the partnership saying “It is important for us to offer those in key positions to affect policy an opportunity to experience firsthand our variety of electrification solutions for reducing the automotive industry’s dependence on petroleum.”
GM Has Roots In China
General Motors is no stranger to the Chinese automotive market. In 2011 GM sold more than 2.5 million vehicles in China. Contrast that with the entire US market which is 11 to 13 million cars sold annually. GM also employs more than 35,000 workers in China. China has driven policy decisions for US cars in recent years. For example, it is widely believed that the reason why Buick survived the cut, while Pontiac was killed off, was due to the Chinese market’s love of Buick.
Volt Sales Disappointing
Volt sales have been in the news recently for a lot of reasons. The Volt has not sold as well as GM had hoped, missing its sales goal of 10,000 cars in 2011 by about 24%. In fact, the Volt production is presently halted at the Detroit-Hamtramck plant for 5 weeks. This is despite support from President Obama and the US motor press. The Volt was even named 2012 European Car of the Year. GM has reported that the Ampera, which is the Volt’s name in Europe, has received thousands of pre-orders. That report is hard to square with the production plant being closed in the US.