Company Sold 4,000 Cars In China Last Year As Part Of Pilot Program
The Chinese auto market has proven highly enticing for virtually all of the world’s top auto marques, and this week the German automaker Opel — a unit of General Motors — was given the nod by its parent company to begin more aggressively expanding into new markets like China and Australia. Last year, Opel sold 4,000 units in mainland China as part of a pilot program, and now the company is looking break in to the country’s premium auto market — which continues to be dominated by German rivals like Audi, Mercedes-Benz and BMW.
As spokesman Andreas Kroemer told Deutsche Welle this week, “We will market Opel as a European designed car in the premium segment,” adding that “there are a growing number of Chinese who like European cars and have the money to afford them.”
Kroemer declined to say which models Opel plans to sell in China. Currently, GM markets its Cadillac, Chevrolet and Buick brands in the country, in addition to vehicles manufactured by Wuling, a Chinese carmaker in which the US auto giant has a 30 percent stake.
Until now, vehicles made by Opel were only sold outside Europe under GM’s Buick nameplate.
Opel is expected to export cars to China at least until the company builds a stronger market position, but as Christoph Stuermer, an auto analyst with IHS Global Insight, told reporters, Opel will likely have no choice but to begin locally producing at some point in order to sidestep China’s stiff import taxes.
Although German cars enjoy an outstanding reputation in China, we’ll have to see whether Opel has arrived too late to the party. While auto sales remain strong, as the AFP reported earlier this month, there are signs that demand is cooling somewhat as government stimulus efforts are eased and the broader Chinese economy loses some of its breakneck momentum.