Why China Matters to GM—Especially Buick

If you want to know how important China is to a company like General Motors, all you have to do it look at its sales of Cadillac and Buick there in September.

If you want to know how important China is to a company like General Motors, all you have to do it look at its sales of Cadillac and Buick there in September.

Overall, GM and its various joint ventures sold a record 343,773 vehicles in China in September. And while there are brands there that aren’t in the U.S. that accounted for more than half of those sales—Baojun September sales were 62,719 units and Wuling were 108,225—Cadillac, Chevy and Buick—especially Buick—made significant contributions.

In the case of Cadillac, it delivered 12,539 units, or 63% more vehicles than it had sold in China in September 2015. While the U.S. remains Cadillac’s biggest market (15,368 units in September), it is interesting to note that third place goes to Canada, which represents about 1/10 of the China sales, with 1,264 deliveries.

Chevrolet delivered 51,932 units in China in September, or a 2.6% increase over September 2015 deliveries. Certainly Chevy sold many more vehicles in the U.S., two things: (1) it has far more models on offer in the U.S. and (2) its September over September sales were down 0.3%.

Excelle

Buick Excelle GT

The big story is Buick in China, which was up 23% over last September, with 108,325 units delivered. That is huge. Apparently, the Excelle GT is averaging monthly sales this year of 30,000 vehicles a month. In September in the U.S. all models of Buick accounted for 20,922 units. Yet here’s one car selling, on average, considerably more.

And while Buick had a strong performance in the U.S. market in September—up 14.1% compared with September 2015—it is hard to see the monthly number for Buick in China as anything short of astonishing.

Here’s another way to look at that 108,325: If you add up the September U.S. sales of Buick, Cadillac and GMC (which isn’t in China, by the way), the total is 79,558, which is 73% of Buick in China for the month.