GM Opens It’s Eighth Vehicle Plant In China

General Motors Corp. opened its eighth vehicle plant in China and said it had no plans for adding further capacity amid slowing demand in Asia’s biggest auto market. And because of the fact that it would make them look like idiots while trying to claim poverty in Washington.

This “has been a big year in terms of expansion” and it “probably will keep us occupied for the foreseeable future,” Kevin Wale, GM China’s president, said by phone today. He spoke from the northeastern city of Shenyang after the opening of the carmaker’s new 2.67 billion yuan ($390 million) plant.

GM expects to boost China sales about 9 percent next year as it adds new models and an economic stimulus plan helps revive overall demand. Auto sales in China have declined in three of the past four months because of the global economic slowdown.

“That is a short-term downturn,” Wale said. We are “building capacity for the long term and we are very comfortable with what we are doing.”

GM, the biggest overseas automaker in China, is counting on emerging markets and U.S. aid to help it survive a plunge in North American sales. The Detroit-based automaker expects to sell as many as 1.2 million vehicles in China next year, Wale said on Dec. 5.

Shenyang Plant

The new factory in Shenyang will be able to make as many as 150,000 vehicles a year, using a two-shift system, the automaker said in an e-mailed statement. The plant is an equal venture between GM and SAIC Motor Corp., China’s biggest automaker.

GM’s total capacity in China is more than 1 million vehicles a year, spokesman Henry Wong said. The carmaker opened a new plant in Qingdao, eastern China, in March with a capacity of 300,000 vehicles a year.

GM has no plans to shed workers in China, Wale said. The automaker expects a “single digit” increase in industrywide sales next year, helped by China’s $584 billion economic stimulus plan.

The “strong stimulatory action” will “start to kick in in the second half of next year,” Wale said.

The new Shenyang plant will begin full production of Chevrolet Cruze compacts in the second quarter of next year. GM plans to introduce 10 new models in China by 2011, according to Wale. The carmaker added a new Buick Regal on Dec. 1.

GM’s China-made vehicle sales rose 8.1 percent in the first 10 months to 861,458. Its U.S. sales fell 20 percent to 2.56 million. China’s industrywide auto sales jumped 11 percent to 7.83 million in the period, compared with a 15 percent drop in the U.S.

GM and Chrysler LLC are seeking $14 billion in emergency aid from the U.S. government to keep operating through the first quarter. President George W. Bush may decide on the bailout as soon as today, according to a government official who spoke yesterday on condition of anonymity.