GM To Develop Electric Cars In China With SAIC, Longtime Partner

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Chevrolet Sail Electric Concept Vehicle

Chevrolet Sail Electric Concept Vehicle

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Maybe you can beat 'em and join 'em at the same time?

That may be what General Motors is hoping with its announcement this morning that it would develop electric cars with its longtime Chinese partner SAIC.

In Shanghai this morning, GM CEO Dan Akerson and SAIC Motor Corp. chairman Hu Maoyuan signed an agreement covering the joint development of a "new electric vehicle architecture in China."

Vehicles emerging from the partnership will be sold under both GM and SAIC brands, and may be built outside China as well.

Details and timing for these products? Those will be "announced later."

China has recently tightened its gas-mileage requirements for new cars, and while it may be pulling back slightly from aggressive plans for electrification, the country's industrial policy is still geared toward China taking a large portion of the design and production of the world's future electric cars.

Chevrolet Volt arrives in China for use at World Expo 2010 Shanghai

Chevrolet Volt arrives in China for use at World Expo 2010 Shanghai

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The two companies' existing joint engineering and design center, known as Pan Asia Technical Automotive Center or PATAC, will house joint teams to develop the car and key components.

In a statement, GM said SAIC will contribute "market knowledge and local expertise" and GM will provide "expertise in electric vehicle development," meaning that the partnership's electric cars will take into account the needs and desires of Chinese buyers.

Last year, the two companies confirmed joint development of a Chevrolet Sail EV and then showed a prototype in December. The car is an electric adaptation of the Sail minicar sold largely in China.

GM has said it will not take advantage of financial incentives offered by the Chinese government for sale of its 2012 Chevrolet Volt in that country, since doing so would require that it transfer core technology to a Chinese company for electric-car batteries, motors, or power electronics.

Whether this new partnership includes Voltec extended-range electric vehicle technology remains to be seen. Given the shorter travel distances and dense traffic in Chinese cities, it's possible that the venture would concentrate solely on battery electric vehicles without range-extending combustion engines.

Chevrolet Beat EV electric vehicle with GM executives, India, June 2011

Chevrolet Beat EV electric vehicle with GM executives, India, June 2011

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GM has now prototyped no fewer than four pure electric vehicles, of which the Sail EV in China is one. One month after the Sail EV, it unveiled a test fleet of all-electric Chevrolet Cruze sedans in South Korea.

That same month, a fleet of Opel Meriva minivans converted to electric drive was announced in Germany. Then in June, GM India announced a prototype Chevrolet Beat EV, an adaptation of the Chevy Spark minicar that will go on sale in the U.S. next year.

SAIC and GM have worked together for almost 15 years to build cars for sale in China, and have 10 different joint ventures together. Global automakers generally have to take on a Chinese company in a 50-50 partnership to build and sell vehicles in volume in the world's largest new-car market.


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Comments (14)
  1. "meaning that the partnership's electric cars will take into account the needs and desires of Chinese buyers." Don't GM think it would be better to take into account the needs and desires of the American buyer first? How about the American worker, GM. America is the best electric car maker in the world. Build your electric car plant here and put thousands of Americans to work, or do you think Americans do not know how to build electric cars or deserve a job?

  2. James Gm does build a electric car here its called the volt in america with american workers oh i forgot its too expensive ( at least for You)
    some people are not happy no matter what and i think you are one of them

  3. Electric cars don't have a gas tank.

  4. C d Speed lets get technical the volt doesn’t have a gas engine it has a Gas GENERATOR only electricity propels the wheels so their for it is a electric CAR if you take the generator out it still will be able to run

  5. Don't get me wrong I do like the Volt so I'm not criticizing the car. And as I've said before I'm well aware of how it works. When GM debuted the Volt they even called it a plug-in hybrid, but through clever marketing decided to call it an EREV. What I'm getting at is not Volt hatred I'm just debating what it is, electric cars are supposed to help us break our dependency on oil, the Volt does help do that but not entirely because it burns gasoline. Electric cars don't go to gas stations for gasoline. Oh and try hitting the reply tab to reply.

  6. CDspeed has seven small very recognizable words in his comment and you couldn't even understand what he sad. He didn't say anything about an engine, he said, "Electric cars don't have a GAS TANK." You should've looked those two words up if you didn't know their meaning. ...and I'm not the only one in America who DON'T WANT TO AFFORD THE VOLT!

  7. Thank you, and I understood your comment, GM is an American company but instead of developing EVs here and creating jobs in the US, they're going to China. They're putting several fleets of EVs out in several countries and creating jobs but they've yet to expand any efforts at home.

  8. Believe it or not, James, GM can actually develop products and build products in more than one region at the same time! How amazing is that??? As in GM can build EVs for China in China and make a profit while also building them in the U.S. for Americans. Again, how amazing would that be.
    You know, like they do, as all OEMs do, for many markets already... Sigh... But at least you got one comment in about the Volt without the usual clowns reference that you usually require.

  9. It is not a bit amazing "robok2" when they neglect their own country...or is this GM's country anymore? The Volt doesn't look like a clown car, but GM's CEO sure does and he even acts like one when he takes jobs out of America and gives them to China and S. Korea.

  10. @James. I can't reply with reply, so that's I'm not replying directly to you. You just don't get it and never will. GM can't make a plug-in hybrid cheaper than $40k, which you continually whine about. But somehow, in yoiur world, they can make them and ship them all the way to China and be competitive.
    You're just like all the people whining about the D3 making vehicles in Mexico, none of you aware that you can't sell cars in volume there without manufacturing. It's part of Mexican law, but when Toyota, Honda and Nissan do it, it's fine. When GM does it, it's wrong, even though it's still a win for GM since they sell lots of cars in Mexico and have a cheaper, competitive base to compete with their rivals, who already build in Mexico.

  11. Exactly what jobs is GM's CEO moving to China? The non-existent ones that don't work on EVs specifically for China now? As for your comment about GM's CEO looking like a clown... How old are you, 12? He's been CEO for all of one year now. Yes, the four straight quarters of profits, NA Car of the Year, and recent quick UAW agreement clearly show that he knows nothing.
    Working on EVs for the Chinese market with a partner while working on other models for here isn't exactly uncommon, it's standard. It will also help GM improve its EVs overall, which is good for all of us.
    Without GM, SAIC would still develop EVs for China and elsewhere, this way at least GM is part of the development and possible profits.
    Again, what jobs are being lost?

  12. No. robok2, you just don't get it and you never will. And GM will not get it neither when they try to shove their overpriced Chinese made EVs, that they shipped from China over here, down our throats and we trun to Nissan for all our EVs. The American people gave GM $150 billion to make us EVs and 60 MPG ICE cars and look at the crap GM is throwing out to us and snubbing their noses up at us and treating us like we are a piece of crap on their shoe that they can't get wipped off and dragging the other automakers down. GM should've been allowed to go out of business...the ungrateful smucks.

  13. @James: It's tedious correcting your blatant disregard for facts. This story indicates that GM will cooperate with a Chinese partner to develop *some* electric cars.

    I defy you to show me one shred of proof that they intend to import all the electric cars they sell in the U.S. from China. It doesn't exist.

    In fact, it seems fairly likely that Korean-built Spark bodies will be turned into Spark EVs IN MICHIGAN, although it's not yet confirmed:

    GM will build that car's motor IN THE USA:

  14. @James: Also, the American people did not "give GM $150 billion". The total sum the U.S. government will lose on the bailout and restructuring of the bankrupt GM is estimated by the GAO at somewhere between $12 and $20 billion. Or one-seventh to one-twelfth your figure.

    I'd also point out that GM has not taken any DoE low-interest loans, unlike its competitors Ford and Nissan:

    You're welcome to loathe GM; plenty of people do. But DO NOT mislead readers with repeated and blanket assertions that are easily, demonstrably wrong. Otherwise, we'll have to start moderating your comments.

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