Is China Still GM's Promised Land?
Bloomberg Businessweek|November 25, 2019
As the carmaker plays catch-up on EVs, Chinese consumers are turning away
Shelly Banjo, Tian Ying, Bruce Einhorn, & Michael Tighe

The future for General Motors Co. in China is in the hands of customers like Yang Yanjun, a 46-year-old logistics executive in Shanghai. Yang and his family own two gasoline-powered cars—a Volkswagen and an Audi—and now he’s considering whether to go electric. Strolling through a Buick showroom in eastern Shanghai, he stops to admire one of GM’s newest electric vehicles, a powder-blue Velite 6 that’s wrapped with a giant red bow and costs less than $27,000. “It’s time for a change,” he says. “We’re ready to try something new.”

Mary Barra, GM’s chief executive officer, who of late is managing labor strife at home, needs more such converts to reverse the automaker’s slide in China. The world’s biggest auto market is suffering through a year-and-a-half slump exacerbated by China’s lackluster economy and the trade war with the U.S.

GM’s position is especially weak. While Cadillac has been a bright spot, sales of its Buick and Chevrolet brands have taken a beating, and GM’s overall passenger-vehicle retail sales plunged 18% through October, according to data from China Automotive Information Net, compared with a 4% decline in the overall market. “In China, the business environment remains challenging and volatile,” Barra said in an earnings call in October. “We’re also seeing a lot of pricing pressures.” She promised to cut costs and improve the company’s product mix.

It’s all a far cry from a decade ago when GM was the top foreign automaker in the market. It formed joint ventures with local partners such as Shanghai Automotive Industry Corp. The venture’s Buick New Century sedans started rolling off the assembly line in 1999, two years after GM and SAIC joined forces, and quickly won over Chinese drivers and passengers, including government officials. During the worst of the Great Recession, when GM was on life support in the U.S., strength in China provided the American parent with a much-needed financial cushion.

Continue reading your story on the app

Continue reading your story in the magazine

MORE STORIES FROM BLOOMBERG BUSINESSWEEKView All

The Most Broken Business in America

Biden’s Build Back Better plan may make day care more affordable for parents—if the providers don’t go belly up first

10+ mins read
Bloomberg Businessweek
November 22 - 29, 2021

Strongmen? Us?

Don’t let their confidence fool you: Xi, Putin, and other authoritarians are increasingly vulnerable at home

6 mins read
Bloomberg Businessweek
November 22 - 29, 2021

The Gucci Girlfriend

A love affair with Sheree McLaughlin led fashion scion Maurizio Gucci to leave his wife—a decision that would get him killed. As audiences ready for Ridley Scott’s retelling in House of Gucci, McLaughlin shares her story for the first time.

10+ mins read
Bloomberg Businessweek
November 22 - 29, 2021

Crypto's Regulation Fix: We'll Handle It

Execs say traditional agencies don’t have the tools or expertise to oversee the sector alone

4 mins read
Bloomberg Businessweek
November 22 - 29, 2021

Ghost at the Controls

Boeing insisted pilots didn’t need expensive training for the new 737 Max and wouldn’t have trouble diagnosing software errors midflight. Then Maxes started pointing themselves toward the Earth. Adapted from the new book Flying Blind: The 737 Max Tragedy and the Fall of Boeing, by Peter Robison

10+ mins read
Bloomberg Businessweek
November 22 - 29, 2021

Xi's Great Moderation

The Chinese leader wants to downsize the real estate sector, even if it means sacrificing economic growth

4 mins read
Bloomberg Businessweek
November 22 - 29, 2021

There's a Blockchain App for That

○ The technology is being used for digital health passports, banking, and gaming

4 mins read
Bloomberg Businessweek
November 22 - 29, 2021

Teaching Digital Currencies Not to Guzzle

Alternatives to “mining” augur power-sipping coins

4 mins read
Bloomberg Businessweek
November 22 - 29, 2021

Rivian's Success Is a Tribute to Tesla

Why is a company with no sales worth $130 billion? Belief in EVs

4 mins read
Bloomberg Businessweek
November 22 - 29, 2021

Retailers Gain The Upper Hand

○ Supply chain disruptions will mean fewer deep discounts for shoppers this Christmas

4 mins read
Bloomberg Businessweek
November 22 - 29, 2021
RELATED STORIES

GM REACHES DEAL WITH LG TO PAY FOR BOLT BATTERY RECALL COSTS

LG Electronics has reached a deal with General Motors to pay $1.9 billion to $2 billion to reimburse the automaker for the cost of recalling Chevrolet Bolt electric vehicles due to the risk of battery fires.

1 min read
AppleMagazine
AppleMagazine #520

BRAKE TIME

TSM Mfg’s easy, affordable way to upgrade any Ford 9-inch from drum to disc brakes

2 mins read
Four Wheeler
November 2021

SEEING 2020

EMISSIONS FRIENDLY UPGRADES FOR THE 2020 DURAMAX

5 mins read
Diesel World
November 2021

GM SAYS PRODUCTION STARTS ON REPLACEMENT BATTERIES FOR BOLTS

General Motors said that production has resumed for battery modules used in recalled Chevrolet Bolt electric vehicles, and customers could start getting replacement parts by mid-October.

1 min read
AppleMagazine
September 24, 2021

I Love My Suburban

FINISH LINE

3 mins read
Hot Rod
October 2021

GM POSTS $2.8B PROFIT, BUT CAUTIOUS TONE SINKS SHARE PRICE

General Motors posted a healthy $2.8 billion second-quarter profit this week, but its cautious outlook for the rest of the year spooked investors.

4 mins read
Techlife News
Techlife News #510

GM WARNS SOME BOLT OWNERS TO PARK OUTDOORS DUE TO FIRE RISK

General Motors is telling owners of some older Chevrolet Bolts to park them outdoors and not to charge them overnight because two of the electric cars caught fire after recall repairs were made.

3 mins read
Techlife News
Techlife News #507

Saving Youngstown. Again

One U.S. president after another has promised to turn this Rust Belt city around. Now Joe Biden is planning to steer millions of dollars in federal funding to revive manufacturing. So where are the jobs?

10+ mins read
Bloomberg Markets
June - July 2021

BIG POWER, BIG LUXURY, JUST PLAIN BIG

2024 GMC HUMMER EV SUV

4 mins read
Motor Trend
July 2021

Clearaudio Concept Active Wood

TURNTABLE

10+ mins read
Stereophile
June 2021