Um, General Chinese Motors?

GM’s huge post-bailout investments in China bear fruit.

China is still rocking, GM announced today, unlike the US where GM’s vehicles sales fell 1.3% in 2016, with cars down 4.3% and trucks, including SUVs, flat. It joined Ford, Fiat-Chrysler, Toyota, BMW, and other automakers in the US that had booked their first annual vehicle sales declines since 2009.

But that’s not what is happening in China. China became the largest new vehicle market in the world for the first time in 2009 with growth rates that made global automakers and their financiers salivate. But these phenomenal growth rates ran aground in early and mid-2015, and sales began to fall on a year-over-year basis. The government ignored the debacle for a while, then stepped in with incentives, and the race began anew.

So today GM announced that its deliveries of new passenger vehicles – cars, light trucks, SUVs, and MPVs (multi-purpose vehicle) – in China grew 7.1% in 2016 to 3.87 million vehicles.

This compares to its US sales, which fell 1.3% to 3.04 million vehicles. So GM sold 27% more vehicles in China than in the US. The gap is likely to grow further.

GM sells vehicles in China under these brands: Baojun, Buick, Cadillac, Chevrolet, Jiefang, and Wuling. Every sale that GM books in China is through its joint ventures, a requirement in China where technology transfer is part of the package of doing business in China. So GM’s sales in China might not quite carry the same weight as its sales in the US. But still.

It was the fifth year in a row when GM’s vehicle sales in China exceeded its sales in the US. All sales numbers cited here are vehicle sales, as measured by dealer deliveries to their customers, not dollar sales, which automakers report separately on their quarterly financial statements on a later date.

And GM is proud of its China strategy. But this is the “New GM” that emerged from Chapter 11 bankruptcy reorganization. The old General Motors Corporation, after it had sold its major assets, trademarks, and intellectual property to the “New GM” on July 10, 2009, was renamed “Motors Liquidation Company” and began disappearing. The “New GM” bought those assets with Debtor in Possession (DIP) funding from the generous US taxpayer. And then, even as the old GM was liquidating plants in the US, the “New GM” went on an investment spree in China.

These are big investments in plants, equipment, technologies, design centers, logistics facilities, and what not. And GM continues with that success recipe of investing in China. Today it announced proudly:

Last year, GM launched 13 new and refreshed models in China, putting it on track to fulfill its plan to introduce 60 models through 2020. It is focused on the luxury, SUV, and MPV segments. About 40% of GM’s product launches in China through 2020 will be SUVs and MPVs.

But customers in the US can also benefit from GM’s great transformation to General Chinese Motors, now that its China-made SUV, the Buick Envision, has arrived in US showrooms with an MSRP of over $40,000.

The hype about auto sales in December in the US has been deafening, and automaker shares jumped yesterday, though they weren’t so lucky today, even as US “car recession” spreads among the biggest automakers. Read…   Annual US Auto Sales Fell for First Time since 2009 at GM, Ford, Fiat-Chrysler, Toyota, VW, BMW…

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  55 comments for “Um, General Chinese Motors?

  1. Nik says:

    Ah..yes baled-out by US Taxpayers..only to Invest and Manufacture a large amount of Product Off-shore….a Truly Inspiring business model for the Ex-mobile ‘Hood-winked’ and rapidly shrinking American Middle-class….Almost Comical,were it not so tragic..! aloha and thanks for reading

  2. michael says:

    Do not for the ignition switch debacle.

  3. RD Blakeslee says:

    Recent news reports: Awful smog levels in China’s major cities.

    California, deja vu?

    GM may not build as many vehicles there as it thinks it will.

    • d says:


      GM paid $ 5M in tax to the US taxpayer that bailed it out, in the same year it paid $ 90M in tax to the CCP STATE.

      GM is effectively a chinese company, that operates in the US and has been since the US TAXPAYER FUNDED BAILOUT in which the US TAX PAYER indirectly lost BILLIONS.

      All to buy p44 the UAW vote in 2008.

      And I have been saying this since they first year after the bailout, that GM paid tax in the US and the disparity between what they paid in china, and the US became apparent.

      After the bailout out GM was nicknamed “Government Motors”, nobody bothered to specify which “Government”.

      The UM in the headline, is not needed. For once Mr Richter is very behind the times with his article, although still far ahead of the MSM that is completely ignoring the GM tax paid, and National loyalty issues.

      I have been laughing at US buyers of chinese Buick’s for some time. They actually think they are driving an “American car”. Manufactured by an “American Company”.

      American’s need to wake up to a basic fact.

      GM is another “Globalised Vampire Corporate” currently allied with china, and pseudo US based only for US market access.

      • DH says:

        The irony is that Buick is now making the best and most reliable cars that they’ve made in my lifetime, and that’s coming from someone who’s dad put in 30+ years at GM.

        • d says:

          Which dosent say much for the reliability of the GM product prior to the To change of manufacturing location.

          There are to many car and truck makers in America and on the planet. Yet india and china insist on developing more.

          GM should have been wound up, the only thing that prevented that IMHO was the UAW votes P44 needed in 08.

      • Robert2 says:

        It is old school to believe union members vote in unison blocks, especially at the Federal level, believe me when I say that as a member for 30 + years the voting of members has changed a lot, and it holds true that the Chamber of Commerce does not vote in a block vote either, even if the national headquarters spends 99% of their contributions on Republicans.

        • d says:

          There is dissent, but the level of it is small, and even smaller in the corrupt union/democrat controlled city’s.

    • walter map says:

      “Awful smog levels in China’s major cities.”

      And drinking water in China is almost as bad as the U.S.:

      Industrial countries compete for the worst pollution.

    • Edward E says:

      Hope China has sidewalks on all their roads, so when their Generally Malfunction do, the folks have a place to walk home. Or the nearest bus stop.

    • Lisa Sophia McGowan says:

      I believe China is aware of the pollution problem because it is aggressively promoting electric vehicles. As a matter of fact, China is the biggest manufacturer of EVs. GM may not be there for that much longer after all.

      • nhz says:

        Yes, Chinese plans for EV’s (and for many other urgent environmental topics like sustainable energy production) are far more ambitious than those of the US and Europe. It would not surprise me if in 5-10 years China starts pulling ahead when it comes to environmental quality.

  4. Rhonda says:

    I would never buy a government motors vehicle. Wake up America stop doing business with these companies. The only way we make a difference to stop lining their pockets.

  5. Chicken says:

    US taxpayers subsidized the export of manufacturing technology and employment to China (globalism), people seem to have extremely short memories but I clearly recall Congress saying we don’t want or need those dirty jobs.

    They took them happily.

    • d says:

      ” people seem to have extremely short memories but I clearly recall Congress saying we don’t want or need those dirty jobs.

      Congress dosent want or need those dirty job’s that need doing.

      Therefor they should be automated and kept in the US feeding the US economy.

      When job’s weather the job is done by a human or a Robot are exported, so is a sector of the Economy.

      To see this in a smaller study.

      look at Taiwan.

      The KMT discovered that the CCP had become even more corrupt than they were, and as result, a large sector of the Taiwanese Economy. Was exported to the Mainland by the corrupt KMT business cronys.

      This had been a economic catastrophe for the People of Taiwan.

      Such a catastrophe, that a WOMAN, was elected to run Taiwan.

      Which is a double insult for the CCP, As the Woman, is pro independence.

      • Lisa Sophia McGowan says:

        I believe China is aware of the pollution problem because it is aggressively promoting electric vehicles. As a matter of fact, China is the biggest manufacturer of EVs. GM may not be there for that much longer after all.

        • d says:

          GM is a bad, strange company, that got stranger over time.

          It destroyed Tucker, to hold back automotive progress in the US. Disk-brakes, safety glass, and seat-belts, in 1946. Not when GM had any say in the matter.

          Then if fought Nader. Again, to hold back US vehicle safety, then it had the first working. Leased Electric vehicle fleet in California and the US then it withdrew them, and went back to its dinosaur hold back all innovation mode.

          Strange predatory company. Should have been wound up, not TAXPAYER Bailed-out..

        • nhz says:

          there are also many stories about how in more recent years GM killed several other innovative companies and technologies (e.g. Aptera, but difficult to judge all the details about those cases).

          Sad … there clearly is huge potential for innovation in the US for this type products, but much of it gets killed by TBTF competitors and stupid government regulation (including wrong subsidies, sometimes …).

        • d says:

          When I use the word bad to describe a thing it is serious.

          The USSR and the CCP are bad Administration’s, Putin is a bad person.

          GM, just like Monsanto, is a BAD company. Its Culture is bad, and probably can not be reformed.

          It is frequently simpler to replace an entity that develops a bad culture, than it is to attempt to reform it.

          TBTF Entity’s have been destroying innovators and suppressing innovation in the US, and globally, for a long long time.

          Monopolists don’t like innovation, they like making huge profits from Dinosaur technology, they can force the public to buy. Simply by removing everything else form the market TBTF entity’s would become monopolist’s in a heartbeat if they had the chance.

          Skim read that and note EXIDES involvement.

          Then think about all the solar, and other battery storage issues, people are trying to deal with today.

          Iron battery’s are perfect for solar, and GREEN to recycle. The only suppliers now are the chinese and they are VERY expensive, as there is no manufacturing competition.

      • nick kelly says:

        GDP per capita: Taiwan 21. 000
        Mainland: 7,000
        As of 2014

        Re: the ‘WOMAN’ comment which sounds like sexist hate speech to me, the world’s most successful economy, Germany’s, has been headed by a woman for some time.
        Although one need not have a background in science to succeed in politics, I believe Merkel is the only leader since Thatcher to have a serious background in hard science: physics.

        • nhz says:

          I think many in Germany strongly disagree with you. Merkel is bringing disaster to Europe with her stupid migrant policies and especially the German citizens are paying a high price (and will be paying for a loooong time).

          Yes, she has a background in physics but do you think that is of any value in politics? Some of the high level politicians in my country with a physics or chemistry degree are or were responsible for the most stupid policies. These people are usually dangerous technocrats or politically clueless idiots that do the dirty work for people operating in the background. And I remember some similarly evil persons from the US as well, e.g. the biochemist that organized much of the killing during the ‘Forever War’.

        • Wolf Richter says:

          The way I read it: the whole lower section of d’s comment is deep and obvious sarcasm. But maybe it wasn’t that obvious.

        • Maximus Minimus says:

          If having a science degree means total lack of imagination, and stubborn thick-headedness, then I will take a lawyer any day. Just this once though.
          Women have special qualities than men lack, but being a peacemaker is not one of them.

        • nick kelly says:

          I’ll take her over buffoon Trump any day.
          And you can rattle on about the refugees all day long. It was a humanitarian disaster and maybe she showed too much compassion. It was also a situation requiring immediate action.

          It was a misstep in terms of popularity, but it was an exception. Just like over here: ‘It’s the economy stupid’ and Germany does have the world’s most successful economy.
          As for ‘stubborn thick-headed-ness’, do you know anything whatsoever about her style of governing, apart from this refugee flavor of the month critique so popular with latter day fascists?
          She has been around long enough that there are already historians writing about her approach to problems. All agree that she is above all one who likes to study before deciding, and one who avoids precipitate action.
          She is also known as one who will change course- the exact opposite of one who takes a stubborn data-resistant approach.

        • nhz says:

          @nick kelly:
          I don’t have the slightest doubt that I know FAR more about Angela Merkel’s disastrous policies (and her lesser known past) than you do – both from relatives in Germany and by reading reliable information for many years. Your opinion on the other hand seems based on the gospel that the MSM has been spreading the last years about ‘Angel’ Merkel, especially after she starting obeying her US masters more closely.

          And that ‘study before action’: it sure doesn’t look like it. Just look at the still ongoing refugee disaster (after several years, she still has learned nothing and stubbornly refuses to admid her mistakes) or the way she keeps stirring up trouble with Russia without any good reason.

        • nick kelly says:

          ‘Merkel’s self-criticism over her refugee policy went over well with the CSU: “I consider this a highly respectable act,” said deputy leader Christian Schmidt. The Bavarian finance minister, another CSU bigwig, praised it as “a course change.” ‘

          September 20, 2016

          She admitted mistake and altered course, as she has done during her tenure.
          And you STILL are off the ONLY point about her I made in my comment- which is that Germany has the world’s most successful economy and she’s been at the helm all this time.

          Where did I say she was popular?

        • nick kelly says:

          Researchers have seen an increased use of Nazi terminology by politicians and members of the public, Josefin Graef, final year doctoral researcher at the Institute for German Studies at the University of Birmingham, told The Independent.

          She cited the example of the chairwoman of the Alternative For Germany (AFD) party, Frauke Petry, using the word “Völkisch” (“ethnic”), which was used by the Nazis to describe those they saw as belonging to the superior German race.

          Ms Petry said the term should not be seen in a purely negative sense and should instead carry positive connotations because it is linked to the world “Volk” (“people”), hinting she did not want the term to be seen as the equivalent as “racist”.

          Her claim was met by outrage by other parties and the media, who argued the term was key to Nazi ideology and stands for a policy of exclusion towards those perceived as “non-German” – in this instance refugees and asylum seekers.

        • d says:

          “Re: the ‘WOMAN’ comment which sounds like sexist hate speech to me,”

          You need tom improve your understanding of chinese and particularly CCP chinese Culture/Discrimination.

          Look at, Japanese female Prime-minister( Just like the US still hasn’t happened) senior politician, politician, senior State official, State Official. You can count them, almost on 1 hand. And that’s a Democracy with free election’s.

          The CCP is even worse. Taiwan is not much better.

          “I believe Merkel is the only leader since Thatcher to have a serious background in hard science: physics.” True.

          Mutti’s only big OIpps was the immigrant isue and it could be her undoing.

          Golda, Maggi, Mutti, even Indira, I liked/like them all.

          At that political level the ability to successfully lead is, more important than gender, and Females Inherently take less risk’s. Politicians are like policemen and tax collectors, undesirable, and necessary.

          Apart from Agenda driven ones like clark, who tend to do long term, and sometimes to permanent damage to society’s. Which she did.

          Shipley was a back stabbing Bag who came to power and lost it that way, there have been worse PM’S than her.

          clark is a closet gay Maoist dictator, who just like the opposition PM she underhandedly brought down. Is a dictator, who destroyed anybody in her party who might be a threat to her, so that 8 years after she was thrown out by the public. That party still can not produce a reasonable leader as she destroyed anybody with those capability’s.

          Australia had juliar. She was a Corrupt unionist Game player, who once she back stabbed her way to the top. Couldn’t stop confrontational game playing, which undid her. She also did long term damage to the country by forward spending large quantity’s of un-guaranteed revenue (when everybody strongly advised her not to) that evaporated. When china slowed, slowing Iron Ore demand.

          The Jury is still out on how serious and long term the damage caused by her will be. The financial issues Australia has now, are all her doing.

          So all Female Prime Ministers are not good either.

        • nick kelly says:

          There was a misunderstanding

  6. Greatful again says:

    The real joke is on them as they’re buying that motorized garbage.

  7. ru82 says:

    Anyone have an idea of Kyle Bass statement:

    Bass believes that government policy changes “will likely act as accelerants to the underlying imbalances which have been accumulating for the past eight years (and in some cases, the last three decades), which is a polite way of saying a mean reversion to a state prior to the unprecedented central bank intervention over the past 7 years.”

    In terms of his outlook, Bass notes that “Unlike establishment prognosticators, we hold a nuanced view of the world that contemplates higher global inflation, tepid real economic growth, and severe imbalances in select Asian financial systems and currency markets.”

    In other words, it’s all about Asia, again.

    And it is likely Asia which he envisions when as he further writes, “global markets are at the beginning of a tectonic shift from deflationary expectations to reflationary expectations.”

    Bass then gives his investors a rhetorical question: “What happens to economies at maximum leverage when interest rates begin to rise?”

    Just guessing here but, either bad things, or the central banks reengage to prevent even a modest, 10% selloff?

    Whatever the right answer, Bass says that “reconciling the potent strengths of the world’s largest economies with their inherent weaknesses has revealed various investable anomalies. The enormity of the apparent disequilibrium is breathtaking, making today a tremendous time to invest. Over the past 18 months, we have focused on a particular set of asymmetries, which we are now seeking to exploit.”

    However, what we found most notable about Bass’ relatively short letter is the following admissions:

    One opportunity in particular has the greatest risk-reward profile we have ever encountered in our decade of being a fiduciary. As investors of ours, you are positioned to take advantage of one of the world’s greatest macro imbalances.
    He did not disclose what the opportunity was, but left readers on the following optimistic note: “We expect the next few years to be the best years for macro investing since the late 1990s.”

    • nick kelly says:

      ‘What happens to economies at maximum leverage when interest rates begin to rise?’

      Not inflation.

  8. Chicken says:

    Wonder why Mexico seems so upset auto manufacturers aren’t knocking down border walls to set up shop? Must be they don’t want those dirty jobs Americans won’t do…

  9. It is apparent that GM did not need the bail out after all !!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

    • d says:

      True, P44 simply needed the UAW votes in 08.

      And got the American taxpayer to buy them for him.

  10. Dan Romig says:

    For those motor heads looking for a high performance coupe, nothing on earth, IMHO, matches the 2017 Corvette Z06 for the price to performance!

    Base MSRP is about 80k, and properly set up, one will run you 92k. On a race track, these cars are able to outrun many competitors that are twice as expensive, and they are still made in Kentucky.

    While a Corvette is not practical for soccer moms and families, it still represents the American sports car to the highest degree, and I applaud GM for making them.

    • d says:

      And the jobs, Taxes, and profit, end up in china.

      GM making, china greater than America.

      Americans dont deserve jobs, they are giving them away, by supporting their greatest competitors for those jobs, every time they buy their products.

      GM is not an American company, in anything but name.

    • nhz says:

      I guess I would prefer a less sporty BMW i8, not very practical either ;-)
      Too bad they are 2-3x more expensive in Netherlands than in neighboring Germany due to taxes ;-(

      I would be interested in something like the Lit Motors C-1 as well, if it ever gets to market. But just like somewhat similar small/light/agile EV products from Europe, nothing seems to be ready for the market yet; or maybe they are blocked from market entry by the big car companies and their friends in the government.

      • Dan Romig says:

        The BMW i8 is a beautiful machine, but it has a MSRP in the US of 140.7k, and an electric cruising range of only 25 km. One of the players for the Minnesota Wild hockey team drives one, and I have seen it a few times up close. Again, sleek and beautiful. At one and a half times the cost of the Vette, it’s a high price to pay though.

        I am a motor head on a budget, and I’ll stick with my mint ’95 Lexus SC400 that I have 11k into; plus it’s always handy to have a donor car (’94 SC400) stored in the garage to cannibalize parts off of!

        If I were to win the Powerball Lottery, I would high-tail it to a Chevy dealer though, eh?

        • nhz says:

          I prefer the silent power and futuristic looks of the i8 to most US muscle cars. But GM sure has made impressive improvements in quality and performance with the Corvette over the last decade or so; good to see that the US can still build such cars.

          The Corvette price is similar to BMW i8 over here, probably due to punitive taxes for its energy rating ;-) Yes, that 25-35 km electric range of the i8 is a bit of a joke especially in my remote corner of the country. But for the near future decent MPG rating on the highway is about the best one can expect from an EV/hybrid ‘sports’ car. The technology still has a long way to go before it can be considered mature (if ever, as fuel cells may prove a better option down the road).

      • d says:

        Gasoline powered cars are dinosaurs and Sports cars are now to ecologically, and socially unfriendly, it just the way it is.

        Mutti’s immigrant blunder was HUGE, she hasn’t had many blunders, like all scientists, she has big ones, when she does.

    • DH says:

      I’d still pick a base model Carrera, since we’ve long passed usable speed for amateurs, and the feel of the 911 is so much better for realistic driving. I was at a track earlier in the year and saw a guy with his brand new Z06…that he totaled after a few laps. Thankfully he survived.

  11. Winston says:

    What arrangement does GM have as far as the distribution of profits from Chines sales and any technology sharing agreements?

    Considering that intellectual property theft in China is cultural:

    Copying, Culture, and Control: Chinese Intellectual Property Law in Historical Context

    I strongly suspect that the Chinese markets that multinational corporations are drooling over will never truly be their’s. I believe the old saying, “A capitalist will sell you the rope you hang him with” is probably correct.

    • Robert says:

      The bailout of General Motors, among other things, involved a complete repudiation of U.S. Commercial Code, being justified in the name of saving workers’ jobs.(Had it occurred normally, the workers could well have kept their jobs, but under new owners.) But one thing is certain: there was no mention during the deliberations of allowing GM to displace workers by producing vehicles in China and exporting them to the U.S. Their so called capitalists did not sell the American people a rope, they sold them a B.S. story by which they feathered their nests at the expense of the other Americans.

  12. Roddy6667 says:

    GM makes more vehicles in China than America. They are building a new Cadillac factory to build more Escalades.

    GM makes more money in China than in America, even after splitting the profits about 50/50 with their Chinese partners.

    Chinese auto workers make about $5.75 US /hour. This is a good job with good working conditions, job security, medical insurance, and a pension. The pay allows the worker to afford a middle class lifestyle that includes home ownership, lots of consumer goods, and enough money left over to save more than one third of his salary. The Chinese can live a nice middle class lifestyle, measured by American standards, for a household income of $9000 USD a year.

  13. I’m still bemused that DIP financing, on which the US Treasury made a profit, is viewed as a bailout. That forcing GM into bankruptcy is viewed as a bailout. The VEBA (voluntary employee benefit association, which pays for retiree healthcare and pensions) got GM stock, not cash.

    I’m also bemused by the personification of a company as fundamentally evil, based on deeds before many current employees were born. And that cutting sales to boost profits is viewed as failure.

    Finally, as to China, the funds invested there came from profits made there, while royalties (and greater volume) help cover the development costs of vehicles sold there and elsewhere – outside of pickups, GM’s platforms are global, not region-specific. GM’s success in China is not to the detriment of the United States.

    BTW I’ve visited suppliers to the new Corvette, lots of industry-leading technology. For more see Smitka and Warrian, A Profile of the Global Auto Industry: Technology and Dynamics, up on Amazon January 1st, with chapters on history, developing markets esp China, the new geography including Mexico, and the expanded role of suppliers, which account for most employment and most R&D in what is today a high-tech industry.

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