For the first time in the 102 year history of GM, it now sells more vehicles in a nation outside the U.S. than in the U.S. itself. Sales in China climbed by 29% this year, compared to just 6.3% in the U.S., making China GM’s largest and most important market. As the Chinese public grows more wealthy, with more middle class level incomes, Buicks and other desirable GM vehicles become a sign of prestige for the more affluent Chinese to own. In 2010, GM sold 8.39 million vehicles worldwide, with 2.35 million vehicles sold in China.
In China, Buick sells more than twice as many cars as they do in the U.S. Buick has been a huge hit for GM in China, and an important market for the company that struggled with financial problems early into new Obama presidency, forcing Washington to work out a loan agreement to keep GM in business while it reorganized to make itself profitable once again. GM repaid loans with big interest rates, helping to boost the nation’s treasury, making it a win-win proposition. Last week’s high level visit by Chinese President Hu helped to secure even more trade agreements, setting the stage for more win-win trade deals between the two economic superpowers.
Only a few hours ago, it was announced by GM that as part of a new trade agreement that Presidents Hu and Obama signed, GM will export $900 million of additional parts and vehicles to Shanghai General Motors over the next two years.
It could also be possible that some exotic Chinese designed Buicks may be sold in the U.S. as well, such as this awesome looking Buick concept car that was a star of the recent Shanghai Auto Show in China. If this model ever makes it into production, it might become the most exciting model Buick has ever built.
Worldwide, Toyota still narrowly leads GM as the largest seller in the world, with 8.42 million sales worldwide. That’s just a scant 30,000 more units than GM. However, Toyota hardly makes a dent in the Chinese market with sales of just 846,000 units in China, partly because of some lingering hostility toward Japan over many issues among many in the Chinese public although Japan remains a huge supplier of export goods to China. By contrast, the Chinese love for the U.S. and the far better image of the U.S. among the Chinese, make American brands much more attractive to the Chinese public.
The U.S. is making some important inroads into China in some markets such as autos and other items. Despite the lingering recession, trade with China reached record levels in 2010, with more U.S. exports to China than ever in history. Chinese imports to the U.S. also grew as well.
GM has appeared to turn the page from the dark days of the recession, and the huge sales in China are an important key to GM’s now rosy future. Things look very good for GM in 2011.