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China sales will remain weak this year: GM

New Delhi

GENERAL Motors Co warned pressure on its China business will persist this year as the world's biggest auto market suffers a prolonged slump, exacerbated by a lacklustre economy and the trade war with the US.

GM and its partners sold 3.09 million vehicles in China in 2019, according to a statement on Tuesday. That represents a 15 per cent decline for a company that was once the top foreign carmaker in China.

"We expect the market downturn to continue in 2020, and anticipate ongoing headwinds in our China business," Matt Tsien, Shanghai-based head of GM's China business, said in the statement.

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The US carmaker's sales in China have tumbled even more than the industry. Added strain has come from a consumer backlash to President Donald Trump's trade policies, a Bloomberg Intelligence report said in November.

The China Association of Automobile Manufacturers has said vehicle sales may drop 2 per cent to 25.3 million units in 2020, which would be a third straight year of declines. China isn't alone. The global auto industry is sputtering as trade tensions and tariffs raise costs and stifle investment, and as manufacturers reassess their staffing in an era of electrification, autonomous driving and ride-on-demand services.

GM is on track to introduce at least 10 new energy vehicles in China in the four years to 2020, the company said. Apart from established players like Volkswagen AG, Mercedes-Benz, and Toyota Motor Corp, GM also needs to compete with local challengers like BYD Co, NIO Inc and Guangzhou Xiaopeng Motors Technology Co. BLOOMBERG