Shanghai Surprise: Wagoner announces GM hybrid plan for China

GM honcho Rick Wagoner was in Shanghai today, showing off the Sequel fuel-cell concept and announcing that come 2008, GM will begin building and selling a hybrid vehicle for the Chinese market. Currently, General Motors is the second largest automaker in the country, and is enjoying healthy growth there, with sales up over 36% versus last year.

No specific details on the Chinese hybrid were announced. In fact, it's not even known under which GM marque it'll be sold at this time. What is known is that the car will be based on existing GM tech, which will be subsequently adapted for Chinese use by GM's local partner, Shanghai Automotive Industry Corporation (SAIC). SAIC will also be tasked with producing the vehicle. In his Financial Times piece on the topic, writer Geoff Dyer notes that China may well be a very favorable market for alternative-fueled vehicles, as it lacks the gasoline fueling infrastructure that's already present in fully matured automobile markets.

That's one of the more interesting takeaways from the piece. One doesn't usually associate emerging markets with the highest-tech vehicles, but in the case of China, it could be a useful proving ground for them specifically because of that "growth" status. As for which GM hybrid technology will be used for the Chinese car, we have no idea, but it wouldn't be surprising to see the "light" hybrid system used in the Vue Green Line applied. The new dual-mode system headed for the big trucks isn't (yet) geared for front-engine/FWD configurations, so the other setup kind of wins by process of elimination.Then again, this might present the General with the perfect opportunity to showcase the dual-mode hybrid in FWD mode.

Whatever the choice is, we'll find out soon enough.

[Source: Geoff Dyer, Financial Times]

Share This Photo X