SHANGHAI -- General Motors predicts growth of 10 percent or less for the Chinese car market this year, but remains confident in the companys fortunes there for the longer term.
The outlook for China is robust for lots of reasons, said Kevin Wale, president of GM China.
The car market is at an early level of development, but already very big. The long-term trend for economic growth is strong. The government is doing much to stimulate both the economy and its pillar car industry. We see this as very constructive, Wale added.
Wale said GMs brush with bankruptcy at home has taken a toll on the companys Chinese investment.
In a globalized business, you cant have some deferrals in the US that dont have some effect elsewhere, he said.
Nonetheless, Wale insists all of GMs key China projects remain on track.
These include five new or redesigned models each for Chevrolet and Buick launched during the next two to three years.
Construction will continue on schedule at GMs 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.
GMs financial difficulties are common knowledge among the Chinese public. Yet Wale rejects the suggestion this may be resulting in a loss of confidence.
The consumer understands weve got a strong business here in China, he said. They know weve got a strong partnership with SAIC. Thats what they focus on.
Wale acknowledges that the strengthening yuan slows exports of components to GM plants in other continents.
That makes it harder to source from China, he said. But some of our suppliers here have shown good improvements in productivity, and labor costs are still low.