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GM with boost from Buick sets August sales record in China

GM and its domestic partners in China had a record August with sales up 13.4 percent year over year. Total sales on an annualized basis were 205,885 units with Buick being a strong driving force.

Shanghai GM's China sales of passenger cars rose 21.7 percent to 98,674 units. Domestic mini-commercial vehicle and passenger car sales by SAIC-GM-Wuling, including its new Baojun brand, were up 8.2 percent on an annual basis to 102,959 units. Both were August sales records.

GM's sales success in China could be threatened going forward if it does not agree to play ball and share its technology for the Chevrolet Volt with the Chinese government as Kate McLeod reported this morning. China has threatened to cut off subsidies for the electric vehicle, which could strain relations between GM and China's communist leaders.

Success in GM's car sales in China continues to be driven by Buick. (GM has to be hoping some of that mojo rubs off in the U.S.). Sales grew 22.6 percent to 56,026 units, which means more than one out of every four GM vehicles sold in China in August was a Buick.

Contrast that to the GM's U.S. car sales where the auto maker sold a similar amount of vehicles in August at 218,479 units. Buick sales in the U.S. were 16,021 for August, or about every one in 14 GM vehicles.

The top-selling Buick in China is the Buick Excelle, a midsize luxury sedan with China's top 5-star rating for safety. Sales of the original Excelle passenger car family increased 16.9 percent to 23,700 units, while sales of the Excelle XT and GT were up 32.7 percent on an annual basis to 11,303 units. Buick also generated growth of 25.7 percent for its LaCrosse sedan and 37.1 percent for its GL8 family, including the new GL8 luxury MPV.

The overall best selling Chevrolet in China for GM would be the Chevrolet Cruze. The Cruze sedan had sales of 19,910 units – an increase of 72.7 percent year on year. That's just shy of 1 of every 10 vehicles sold in China by GM.

Cadillac luxury vehicle sales rose 55.8 percent on an annual basis in August to 2,531 units. The SRX luxury SUV remained the brand’s best-selling model, with sales totaling 1,772 units. Sales of Wuling mini-commercial vehicles in China increased 6.0 percent year on year to 95,837 units. Sales of light-duty commercial vehicles by FAW-GM in the domestic market in August were down 30.4 percent compared with August 2010 to 3,506 units.

GM has a big footprint in China. GM has 11 joint ventures, two wholly owned foreign enterprises and more than 35,000 employees in China. GM and its joint ventures offer the broadest lineup of vehicles and brands among automakers in China. Passenger cars and commercial vehicles are sold under the Baojun, Buick, Cadillac, Chevrolet, Jiefang, Opel and Wuling brands. In 2010, GM sold more than 2.35 million vehicles in China, which represented 28.8 percent growth over the prior year. It has been the sales leader among global automakers in the market for six consecutive years.

In other GM Asia news, Jim Bovenzi, president and managing director of GM Russia and CIS, and Anatoly Balushkin, chairman of Asia AVTO, signed a memorandum of understanding for the further development of the partnership between the two automakers in order to strengthen Chevrolet's position in the Kazakhstan market. It extends the relationship between the two automakers, which began working together in 2007.

Six Chevrolet models are currently produced at Asia AVTO’s plant in Ust-Kamenogorsk, Kazakhstan. In the fourth quarter of 2011, Kazakhstan's largest passenger car manufacturer will begin regular production of three new Chevrolet products: the Cruze hatchback, new Captiva and seven-seat Orlando. The aim is to increase annual production of Chevrolet vehicles in Kazakhstan to 10,000 units.

Chevrolet sales in Kazakhstan increased 2.3 times in the January-July period. The Chevrolet Aveo is number one in the small car segment and the Chevrolet Cruze is one of the best-selling products in the C-class segment.