Monday, 27 March 2023

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General Motors’ China business runs into problems

Tesla vs. BYD: Market pros pick their favorite electric vehicle giant

A worker checks the quality of a vehicle before rolling off the assembly line at the production workshop of SAIC General Motors Wuling in Qingdao, East China’s Shandong province, Jan. 28, 2023. (Photo credit should read

CFOTO | Future Publishing | Getty Images

General Motors is losing ground in China, its top sales market for more than a decade and one of two main profit engines for the Detroit automaker.

The company’s market share in the country, including its joint ventures, has plummeted from roughly 15% in 2015 to 9.8% last year — the first time it has dropped below 10% since 2004. Its earnings from the operations also have fallen by nearly 70% since peaking in 2014.

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The coronavirus pandemic, which originated in China, is partially to blame. However, the declines started years before the global health crisis and are growing increasingly more complex amid rising economic and political tensions between the U.S. and China.

There’s also growing competition from government-backed domestic automakers fueled by nationalism and a generational shift in consumer perceptions regarding the automotive industry and electric vehicles.

Take, for example, Will Sundin, a 34-year-old science teacher who told CNBC he never envisioned buying a Chinese-branded vehicle when he moved to the country in 2011. More recently Sundin purchased a Nio ET7 electric vehicle as his daily driver in Changsha, the capital city of China’s Hunan Province.

“I wanted something big and comfortable, but I also wanted something that was a bit quick,” he said. “I like the look of it.”

Sundin, who moonlights as a YouTube car reviewer, knows the Chinese vehicle industry well. He purchased his Nio over models from rival Chinese automakers Xpeng, Li Auto and IM Motors. He said the vehicle’s ability to swap out the battery for a fresh one, rather than recharging, “put it ahead pretty quickly.”

Not on his consideration list? American brands such as GM’s Cadillac and Buick, which initially led the automaker’s growth in China.

“Cadillac has a good image in China, but it’s expensive,” said Sundin, who previously owned a 2012 Ford Focus. “I think the problem they face is that they have competition, new competition, a lot of new competition, from different directions that they weren’t expecting.”

Will Sundin, who lives in Changsha and is standing in front of his new Nio ET7 electric vehicle.

Source: Will Sundin

That competition is increasingly becoming a problem for GM, which has acknowledged…

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