General Motors Co. Chief Executive Officer Mary Barra has made her first visit to China since the pandemic, where the US auto giant is losing ground to electric rivals Tesla Inc. and BYD Co.
Barra met with Shanghai’s leader on Wednesday, who encouraged GM to step up investments and research and development in the city, the municipal government said in a statement.
The financial hub’s party chief Chen Jining also said the auto industry is a key pillar for Shanghai and the city will continue to improve its business environment and provide better services for Chinese and international companies. Barra said that China remains a key market for GM and she looked forward to developing more clean and intelligent cars with its local partners, according to the statement.
The trip marked Barra’s first visit to China since the pandemic, during which time GM’s deliveries in the country dropped from 3.09 million vehicles in 2019 to 2.3 million last year, and its share of China’s new car market fell from 15% in 2015 to 9.8% in 2022.
The Detroit-headquartered company has joint ventures with local carmakers including SAIC Motor Corp and Wuling Motors, which developed the smash hit Hongguang MiniEV — the best selling model in China last year. But sales for the electric microcar have been slowing and limited EV offerings from other brands such as Cadillac and Chevrolet has seen GM lose market share to Tesla and BYD.
To catch up, GM is speeding up the launch of new EVs. It overtook Ford Motor Co. in the US as the second highest seller of EVs in the first quarter this year. In China, the company is launching four electric models across the Buick, Cadillac and Chevrolet brands this year, including the Electra E5.