GM Top Exec: China’s vehicle sales to reach 19.5 million this year image

Optimism abounds at the Beijing auto show, which opened in the Chinese capital on Monday.

General Motors expects Cadillac sales in China to match U.S. levels by 2015 or 2016, while BMW expects sales growth in China to climb by a double-digit percentage in 2012.

In addition, GM expects China’s vehicle sales to reach 19.5 million to 20 million this year – an increase from about 18.5 million in 2011.
Kevin Wale the company’s top China executive made the comments to reporters at the Beijing auto show.

The U.S. based automaker plans to open 600 dealerships in China this year and nearly double the number of cars it builds in China by 2016, with plans to introduce a new Cadillac each year for several years.

The Cadillac push in China, where the automaker mostly sells Chevrolet, Buick, and Wuling models, is part of GM chief executive officer Dan Akerson’s effort to raise profit margins and develop Cadillac as a top global brand to hedge against the risk of declining sales of high-profit trucks.

Asked by a reporter whether GM would set up a dedicated factory to produce Cadillacs in China instead of sharing production with other GM models, Akerson said, “yes,” but gave no details.

Interestingly, Cadillac attracts younger generation in China. GM reported that the average age of a Cadillac buyer in China is 35. In United States, it is 63, according to J.D. Power & Associate.

China is the world’s biggest auto market by vehicles sold, but sales growth slowed from 35 percent in 2010 to just 2 percent in the latest quarter.