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General Motors Co’s (GM) vehicle sales in China grew 12 per cent over July-September versus the same period a year earlier, the Detroit automaker’s first Chinese quarterly sales growth in two years.

The second-biggest foreign auto maker in China by units - after Germany’s Volkswagen AG - said on Monday it delivered 771,400 vehicles in China in the third quarter. That followed a second-quarter fall of 5 per cent.

GM has a Shanghai-based joint venture with SAIC Motor Corp Ltd making Buick, Chevrolet and Cadillac vehicles. It has another venture, SGMW, with SAIC and Guangxi Automobile Group, producing no-frills minivans and which has started manufacturing higher-end cars.

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China sales of mass-market brand Buick rose 26 per cent in the third quarter, GM said in a statement. Sales of its mass-market Chevrolet marque fell 20 per cent whereas those of premium brand Cadillac jumped 28 per cent.

Sales of no-frills brand Wuling grew 26 per cent, whereas those of mass-market Baojun vehicles tumbled 19 per cent.

GM has seen its China sales suffer in a crowded market and slowing economy. To revive its fortunes, it wants electric vehicles (EVs) to make up over 40 per cent of new launches over the next five years in China, where the government promotes greener cars.

The automaker’s Wuling Hong Guang MINI EV, a micro two-door EV with a starting price of 28,800 yuan (US$4,200), was China’s biggest-selling EV in August.

GM’s sales in 2019 fell 15 per cent from a year earlier to 3.09 million vehicles. The auto maker delivered 3.65 million vehicles in 2018 and 4.04 million units in 2017.

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