SHANGHAI -- General Motors is predicting growth of 10 percent or less for the Chinese car market this year.
GM China president Kevin Wale said outlook for China is robust despite the global economic downturn.
He said the car market in China is at an early level of development but is already very big.
"The long-term trend for economic growth in China is strong. The government is doing much to stimulate both the economy and its pillar car industry. We see this as very constructive," Wale said.
GM's brush with bankruptcy in North America has taken a toll on the company's Chinese investment, Wale said. "In a globalized business you can't have some deferrals in the U.S. that don't have some effect" elsewhere, he said.
But all of GM's key China projects remain on track. These include five new or redesigned models each for the Chevrolet and Buick brands launched over the next two or three years.
Construction will continue on schedule at GM's Anhui proving ground and its new regional headquarters in Shanghai. Production at a new SAIC-GM-Wuling engine plant in Qingdao will go ahead according to plan.
GM's brush with bankruptcy is common knowledge among the Chinese public. Yet Wale rejects the suggestion this may be resulting in a loss of confidence.
"The consumer understands we've got a strong business here in China. They know we've got a strong partnership with SAIC. That's what they focus on," he says.
Wale said that the strengthening yuan slows exports of components to GM plants in other continents.
"That makes it harder to source from China," he says. "But some of our suppliers here have shown good improvements in productivity, and labor costs are still low."