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GM's China sales up 51 percent in February

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[March 03, 2010]  SHANGHAI (AP) -- General Motors said its February vehicle sales in China rose 51 percent from a year earlier on strong demand for Chevrolet and Cadillac models as well as its popular minivans.

HardwareThe 174,306 vehicles sold by General Motors Co. and its joint ventures in China in February was a company record for the month, it said Wednesday, though well below the 219,192 vehicles sold in January.

That could reflect slower sales due to the Lunar New Year holiday, but also a softening in demand for small cars that have powered the company's growth in China, the world's biggest auto market, over the past year.

"Our February sales numbers exceeded our expectations despite the Spring Festival holiday," Kevin Wale, president and managing director for GM China Group, said in a statement.

"The continued strong market demand portends another record year for both the industry and GM in China in 2010," he said.

The bulk of GM's were still by SAIC-GM-Wuling, GM's minivehicle joint venture, which sold 110,315 units, up 37.7 percent from the year before, the company reported.

Sales by GM's flagship in China, Shanghai GM, climbed 65.7 percent to 58,182 units, with demand for Chevrolet models accounting for more than 40,000 of that total. Sales of Cadillacs more than tripled to over 900 units.

GM's sales in China climbed nearly 74 percent from a year earlier in the first two months of the year, to 393,498 units.

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Automakers are looking to China to offset weak demand in traditional markets and to drive future growth. Last year, China overtook the United States as the biggest auto market with a 48 percent jump in sales, helped by government tax breaks and subsidies meant to encourage purchases of energy efficient, small vehicles.

Analysts expect sales growth to slow this year, though so far the market has kept relatively strong momentum.

China's official auto sales figures are due for release next week.

Ford Motor Co.'s joint venture in China, Changan Ford Sales Co., reported sales climbed 37.5 percent in February to 18,193 Ford brand passenger vehicles. But that compared with 30,759 sold in January.

[Associated Press]

Copyright 2010 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.


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