General Motors and Chinese automaker SAIC Motor Corp. have partnered to build a new electric vehicle for the Chinese market. Set to be developed at the Pan Asia Technical Automotive Center in Shanghai, the joint venture aims to pair GM’s electric-vehicle knowledge and SAIC’s knowledge of the Chinese auto market.
GM and SAIC have been cooperating in China for some 15 years. In December 2010, Shanghai GM unveiled the Chevrolet Sail electric-car concept at the Guangzhou Auto Show. Its lithium-ion battery pack enabled a top speed of 81 mph and a maximum driving range of 93 miles per charge. It is unclear whether this is the car that GM and SAIC will develop for production.
The vehicle developed as part of this joint venture will be sold in China under GM and SAIC brands. Each company also is free to appropriate the technologies for use in its own vehicles for sale elsewhere in the world. GM says product details and arrival dates will be announced later.
“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,” SAIC Motor president Chen Hong said in a statement. “It will help bring about our goal of leading the automotive industry in new energy vehicles.”
GM has been busy in China. Last fall, GM and SAIC announced a partnership to build engines and transmissions for small cars. The engines would displace between 1.0 and 1.5 liters, and would be mated to dual-clutch transmissions. The front-wheel-drive powertrain was designed for sale in China and around the world. GM also has launched a new China-only brand called Baojun, selling the 630 midsize sedan there for the equivalent of $9800.
The new electric car will help GM in its goal of doubling Chinese sales. Along with launching new Chevrolet and Buick models in China, GM hopes to increase its annual sales in the country to 5 million vehicles by 2015 — more than double the 2.35 million cars it sold in 2010.