Under a new agreement with its Chinese partner, Liuzhou Wuling Automotive, GM has begun exports of minivans from the country to markets in Africa, the Middle East and Latin America. The first shipment of 150 vehicles left Guangzhou for Egypt last Thursday aboard NYK’s Zeus Leader and are due to arrive in Port Said at the beginning of September.
The vehicles – the N200 and N300 – are produced by GM’s joint venture SAIC-GM-Wuling Automobile but have been rebadged as Chevrolets for the overseas markets.
GM is already exporting the rebadged N200 to Peru.
This most recent agreement to export from China’s low manufacturing base may be an indication of GM’s plans to develop production in the country for global markets. The company has rearranged all of its overseas operations under the umbrella of the newly created GMIO unit, based in Shanghai, which was created to replace the former GM regional operating structure, previously headed by GM Asia Pacific. GMIO will be headed with a new management team as of the beginning of September under the leadership of Nick Reilly.
At this stage, however, exports are expected to be low, with just 4,000 units planned for shipment per year.
The company said it had “no immediate plan” to bring Wuling vehicles to North America.
GM holds a 34% stake in the joint venture with Wuling (15.9%) and SAIC (50.1%) but has been seeking to increase its stake given the impressive growth the venture has seen since last year. It sold 87,925 vehicles in July, up 90.7% on the same month a year earlier, helped by stimulus incentives introduced by China’s State Council.
The first delivery to Egypt is unlikely to be the last with automotive sales in the country forecast to rise by nearly 97% by 2013.