GM presses to regain control of Chinese JV

Automaker opens technology centre in Shanghai to develop EVs for budding Chinese market

September 21, 2011   by Canadian Manufacturing Daily Staff

SHANGHAI—General Motors Co. (GM) is seeking to buy back a one-per-cent stake it sold to its main Chinese joint venture partner as it expands technology investments in China.

GM is looking to buy back a one per cent stake in the $84.5 million 50-50 joint venture, hoping to end SAIC’s majority control and allow GM to reclaim its equal share.

Detroit-based GM has opened a new technology centre in Shanghai meant to design lighter, safer and more efficient cars for the China, a market that has proved crucial to its survival.

It will house four key GM technical and design organizations: the China Science Lab, Vehicle Engineering Lab, Advanced Powertrain Engineering Lab and Advanced Design Center. Once completed, the 65,000-square-meter center will include 62 test labs and nine research labs. It will eventually employ 300 people, including engineers, designers, researchers and technicians.

The first phase – the Advanced Materials Laboratory Building – includes a battery cell testing lab, battery material lab, metallography and electrochemical lab, cell fabrication lab and micro-foundry and formability lab.

It will research lightweight materials and battery cells for the development of hybrid and plug-in hybrid vehicles, extended-range electric vehicles and other advanced technology vehicles.

While the Chinese market has cooled in recent months following the expiration of tax incentives and subsidies meant to spur sales during the recession, it remains the world’s largest and fastest growing major market for new vehicles.

The automaker expects total vehicle sales in China to grow by about 5 per cent to 19 million units. Sales of passenger vehicles, excluding large buses, should grow by double-digits, after jumping by a third last year to 13.7 million vehicles.

China’s auto sales have risen 5.4 per cent so far this year to 1.6 million units as of the end of August.

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