As if we needed any more evidence that China is an important market for multi-national automakers, General Motors has announced that the company's China operations are going to be split off into its own business unit separate from the rest of international operations. Heading up GM China will be Tim Lee, who will retain his position of global manufacturing chief. Taking over the rest of GM's international operations will be Stefan Jacoby, formerly of Volkswagen and Volvo.
Jacoby will oversee operations in 100 countries including Africa, Asia, Europe and the Middle East. Bob Socia, current president of GM China, will retain his position and report to Lee. Lee will have responsibility for 12 joint-ventures, two wholly-owned foreign enterprises and more than 55,000 employees.
China is a critical market for General Motors, where it narrowly leads Volkswagen for overall sales volume. Many credit China for the survival of the Buick brand during the company's 2009 restructuring. Buick is one of GM's most popular brands in China, where its popularity dates back decades, when it was one of the preferred brands of the elite and powerful.
The Buick Excelle compact sedan, sold in the U.S. as the Verano, is one of GM's and Buick's most popular models in China, selling more than 270,000 in 2012, compared to sales of 167,091 of all Buick models in the U.S. in 2012. Sales of Buick models in China topped 700,000 units in 2012.
Source: Reuters, General Motors