General Motors Co. (GM:US) said Cadillac sales dropped last month in China, bucking gains by Buick and Chevrolet that helped the automaker post record monthly deliveries in the world’s largest vehicle market.
The Detroit-based automaker sold 1,570 Cadillacs last month, compared with 2,987 units a year earlier, as it phases out the SLS model, the company reported today. The 47 percent decline is the sharpest on record and lowest monthly volume since 2010, according to data compiled by Bloomberg stretching back to 2009.
“Cadillac is in the process of phasing out the SLS model, which will be replaced by the new XTS this quarter,” Dayna Hart, a Shanghai-based GM spokeswoman, said in an e-mail. “We also will soon start selling the new model 2013 SRX.”
The slowdown in deliveries illustrates the challenges GM Chief Executive Officer Dan Akerson faces in expanding the luxury brand as part of efforts to increase profit margins. The carmaker plans to introduce one Cadillac model a year to China and expand dealerships to help it compete against premium marques including Volkswagen AG (VOW)’s Audi and Bayerische Motoren Werke AG.
GM’s China deliveries climbed 26 percent last month to 310,765 units from a year ago, a monthly record, led by a 36 percent increase in Wuling sales, according to the statement. Buick and Chevrolet sales both gained 22 percent.
Economists and analysts typically calculate January- February figures to smooth out distortions caused by the weeklong Lunar New Year holidays, which fell in January last year and February this year.
The U.S. automaker has targeted to outpace China’s average industry growth this year as it prepares to open more dealerships in the world’s largest auto market.
GM will open 400 more showrooms across its brands in China this year, bringing the total to about 4,200, its head of China operations Bob Socia said in December. Of that, about 40 Cadillac dealerships will be added to the around 160 outlets it currently has.
Deliveries at GM and its Chinese joint ventures jumped 11 percent to hit a record 2.84 million units last year. GM said in 2011 it planned to invest as much as $7 billion in the five years to 2015 in China.
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