GM China JV Not Big on Beijing Auto Show Buzz

There is not a single local or global debut from Buick, Cadillac or Chevrolet at the Beijing auto show whose 9-day run closes Wednesday. The only all-new entry on display is the Baojun 310 subcompact hatchback.

Vince Courtenay, Correspondent

May 2, 2016

3 Min Read
Baojun 310 hatchback only SAICGM model to debut at Beijing show
Baojun 310 hatchback only SAIC-GM model to debut at Beijing show.

General Motors’ Chinese joint venture appears to be more interested in getting new cars into showrooms than shows.

There is not a single local or global debut from Buick, Cadillac or Chevrolet on the SAIC-GM display stands at the Beijing auto show whose 9-day run closes Wednesday.

The only all-new entry to debut in Beijing is on the SAIC-GM-Wuling stand, where the Baojun 310 subcompact hatchback is taking its first public bow. The new entry follows excellent sales performances by its sister models, the Baojun 730 MPV and the Baojun 560 SUV. Both sold a combined 45,022 models in March, an 82% jump from a year earlier.

The new small hatch has a 1.2L P-TEC 60-hp engine harnessed to a 5-speed manual transmission. A spokesman tells WardsAuto the Baojun 310 delivers fuel economy of 44 mpg (5.3 L/100 km).

Pricing has not yet been announced.

Even the concept cars shown by SAIC-GM were hand-me-downs from other shows.

The Buick Avista concept made its debut at the North American International Auto Show in Detroit in January, but made its first China appearance at the Beijing show.

Other SAIC-GM models on display in Beijing were unveiled in the weeks and months ahead of the big show and are being sold throughout China.

Buick unveiled its all-new ’17 LaCrosse sedan on March 18 in Guangzhou, and the LaCrosse Hybrid had its global launch on April 18 in Shanghai a week ahead of the Beijing show.

The LaCrosse sedan can be had in all Buick showrooms for between RMB226,000-RMB340,000 ($35,000-$53,000). Pricing for the LaCrosse Hybrid has not been disclosed.

The revived LaCrosse marque was designed and developed at the GM-SAIC Pan Asia Technical Center as the Invicta Concept, and made its global debut at the 2008 Beijing auto show.

Powered by a 1.8L SIDI engine with electric variable transmission and a 1.5-kWh high-performance lithium-ion battery unit, a spokesman says the LaCrosse Hybrid can clock 0-62 mph (0-100 km/h) in 8.9 seconds.

GM China President Matt Tsien notes China is Buick’s biggest market, accounting for 37% of the brand’s global sales. China also accounts for about 15% of GM’s total global sales.

Buick sales in first-quarter 2016 were up 22%, led by the Envision CUV, which was up 85% year-over-year. March deliveries of the Envision, which is slated for export to the U.S., were up 14% to 7,588 units.

Cadillac Ups China Ante

Cadillac launched its top-of-the-range CT6 luxury sedan Jan. 27 in Shenzhen. The first model ever produced at SAIC-GM’s new Cadillac plant in Shanghai, it’s being sold in China for between RMB439,900 and RMB818,800 ($68,000-$125,000).

In China, top-end luxury cars are available with extensive rear-seat modifications for owners who are driven by chauffeurs, hence the high upper-range pricing relative to U.S. models.

Cadillac launched its new XT5 luxury midsize CUV (also produced at the new Shanghai plant) on April 12, one week ahead of the Beijing show. The new entry is priced at RMB360,000-RMB540,000 ($58,000-$83,000).

Cadillac President Johann de Nysschen tells reporters at the show he expects the new models to help the Cadillac brand grow 25% in China this year.

A cutaway model of the upcoming CT6 Hybrid was displayed next to the Cadillac main stand. The CT6 Hybrid launches later this year in China and will be exported to the U.S.

If launching new models ahead of the Beijing auto show has benefited Buick and Cadillac, the same cannot be said for Chevrolet. Sales in March were down 19% to 33,320.

Chevrolet unveiled its China flagship, the ’17 Malibu XL, on Feb. 27 in Shenzhen, on Feb. 27, but the automaker contends interest at the Beijing show nevertheless was high.

The Malibu XL is selling alongside the ’16 Malibu and is priced from RMB180,000-RMB250,000 ($28,000-$39,000).

Chevrolet displayed the new-generation Cruze, whose starting price in China is RMB110,000 ($17,000), alongside a “Tron”-themed Cruze meant not only to attract customers to the brand but also to promote the new Walt Disney resort that opens in June in Shanghai. Chevrolet is sponsoring a major exhibit at the theme park.

The Disney blockbuster movie, “Tron,” debuted in the U.S. in 1982.


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