GM aims to sell 2 mln vehicles in China in 2010 image

General Motors Co. expects to sell about 2 million vehicles in China in 2010, a level it didn’t expect to reach for at least another two years, said Kevin Wale, the company’s top executive in the nation.

GM plans to introduce more than 10 new models in China this year, Wale said in an interview in Shanghai yesterday. The company, China’s largest overseas carmaker, sold 1.83 million vehicles in the country in 2009, 67 percent more than a year earlier. In an April statement, GM forecast reaching annual sales of 2 million vehicles over five years.

The Detroit-based automaker has boosted investment in China since exiting bankruptcy in July as economic growth and stimulus measures caused the nation to surpass the U.S. as the world’s largest auto market last year. At home, U.S. government- controlled GM has shut plants on tumbling demand.

“After last year’s sales boom driven by government stimulus, GM may see sales slow in products like Wuling minivans while Shanghai GM may continue to perform well with more attractive models,” Yu Bing, an analyst at Pingan Securities Co. in Shanghai, said in a phone interview today.

China last year halved the sales tax on new vehicles to 5 percent and offered 5 billion yuan ($732 million) in cash to replace old ones, insulating the country from slumping global demand. Passenger-car sales rose 53 percent to 10.3 million as overall vehicle sales gained 46 percent to 13.6 million.

China announced plans on Dec. 10 to scale back the measures, including raising the tax on new vehicles with engines of 1.6 liters or smaller to 7.5 percent. Still, GM expects total vehicle sales of 14.5 million to 15 million in the country this year, Wale said on Jan. 13.