GM opens China test track in effort to remain market leader

Sat Sep 22, 2012 10:53am EDT
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By Ben Klayman

DETROIT (Reuters) - General Motors Co (GM.N: Quote) opened a new, large vehicle test track west of Shanghai on Saturday as part of its push to retain its leading market share in the world's largest auto market.

The No. 1 U.S. automaker and its joint venture partners, including SAIC Motor (600104.SS: Quote), invested about $252.5 million to build what GM China President Kevin Wale called the country's largest proving ground.

"When we look forward, our volumes are going to increase significantly and to win in the market place you have to introduce more products and introduce them quicker and better than the competition," he told Reuters by telephone from the track opening on Saturday in China.

"So it's a necessary spend if you're going to be as big a player as we are in China."

GM invests $1 billion annually in China.

The 1,400-acre (560-hectare) facility was opened in Guangde County, Anhui province, and will employ about 100 people as part of GM's drive to develop vehicles faster in a market where it had a leading 14 percent share last year.

GM previously used tracks owned by other companies or the government to test vehicles, or shipped cars to other countries, including South Korea or the United States, Wale said.

"You can use proving grounds elsewhere in the world, but you have to ship cars, which is a waste of time and a tremendous waste of money," he said. "If you can have a world-class proving ground in improving the cars, you're going to build better cars and you're going to save a lot of time in development."   Continued...