GM Inks Electric Car Deal with China’s SAIC

By Blake Z. Rong | September 20, 2011
These days, everybody wants a piece of the Chinese pie. General Motors has had a long tradition of working in China—the company’s joint venture with Shanghai Automotive Industry Corporation (SAIC) has been going strong since 1997, and with Buick and Chevrolet overseas they have been one of China’s top three manufacturers for years. Now, GM is looking to take the venture further and electrify their range with SAIC. In a deal signed today by GM CEO Dan Akerson, GM engineers will work with Shanghai GM at the Pan Asia Technical Automotive Center to develop a new platform that could lead to a Chinese-built, globally-sold electric car, which would minimize the cost for both companies. They last introduced the Chevrolet Sail electric concept in December at the Guangzhou Auto Show as a demonstration of their electric development capabilities. Whatever vehicle they introduce will be sold under both brand names. “Our agreement will enable SAIC and GM to take advantage of economies of scale and get new technology to the market faster than by going it alone,” said SAIC president Chen Hong. “It will help bring about our goal of leading the automotive industry in new energy vehicles and our vision of sustainable transportation.”
GM is considering bringing the Chevrolet Volt to China, provided the company can secure a subsidy from the government, and eventually building it there, which would lower the Volt’s price of entry. Neither company has commented on how much the deal cost them, but both are quick to point out that it’s not politics, just business—they were quick to quash any rumors that the Chinese government was attempting to make a ploy for the Volt’s technology. GM’s difficulties in selling the Volt in China stem from the government's policy of only offering a subsidy on electric cars from Chinese companies, which still lag in technology. So whatever deal results from their joint venture, GM and SAIC will try to make the most of it. Source: GM