General Motors sales in China fall

SHANGHAI: General Motors Co’s quarterly sales in China fell for the first time in over a year, hit by faltering economic growth and a wider slowdown in the world’s biggest auto market amid a whipsawing trade war with the United States.
The US carmaker sold 835,934 vehicles in the third quarter ended September, down a sharp 14.9 per cent from a year earlier, which the firm said was due to a “softening” vehicle market and issues shifting to a new engine system with its Buick brand.
“The major reasons are a softening market, slowing lower-tier cities, Buick’s engine change-over and a strong Q3 last year,” a Shanghai-based GM spokeswoman said. She added the fall was not linked to trade tensions.
The fall marks the maiden drop since the first quarter of 2017, when GM’s China sales fell 5.2 per cent. GM switched to reporting only quarterly China sales earlier this year, scrapping monthly sales figures it had previously revealed.
China’s automobile sales have been falling more broadly in recent months, with a slowing economy and trade frictions making consumers cautious about spending, an industry body said last month.
GM has been shifting its Buick cars to a new type of more efficient three-cylinder engine to meet emissions targets, which Chinese dealers said had hit sales because consumers were not yet convinced by the smaller engines.
“Many consumers still have concerns because they read negative comments about three-cylinder technology online, which aren’t really fair,” said a sales manager surnamed Hu at a Buick dealer in Zhejiang province.
China, the world’s largest auto market, is critical for the US carmaker. It sold over 4 million vehicles in the country last year. — Reuters