GM Touts Opening of Major Proving Ground in China

Tim Dunne

General Motors Corp. and several partners just opened what they claim is the largest proving ground in China, built with an investment of RMB 1.6 billion ($253 million). The Guangde Proving Ground in Guangde County, Anhui, located west of Shanghai, features 37 miles of test roads, and some of the industry’s most advanced technologies and processes, according to a GM China official.

Two of the partners, Shanghai GM and the Pan Asia Technical Automotive Center (PATAC), will direct the proving ground’s operation. The proving ground, which features eight test areas including an oval track, vehicle dynamics test area, ride and handling loop, and noise test road, among others, can accommodate up to 140 vehicles for testing simultaneously. In addition, it has 23,000 square meters (247,569 square feet) of auxiliary space for labs, repair facilities and private workshops.

GM was among the earliest and has been the most active investor in R&D development in China. The PATAC facility is among the biggest—if not the absolute largest—foreign automotive R&D center in China where vehicles and vehicle components are designed and developed.

This is a major development. Although the quality of China’s passenger vehicles has improved, there is plenty more room for improvement among most automakers. In addition, China’s production overcapacity is so enormous (they have capacity to build 28.5 million vehicles but will only sell about 19.2 million in 2012), that the country has to be considering how to grow its export opportunities in the future. In order to export to the largest and most mature markets, quality has to improve.

GM Celebrates 2 Million Sales in China This Year

In recent sales news, GM also said that with its joint ventures in China, it sold its 2-millionth vehicle in the country this year on Sept. 21. GM says that this is the earliest date that the company has reached the milestone since it started selling cars in China. Last year, GM said it reached the 2-million unit mark on Oct. 14 and in 2010, it was achieved on Nov. 4.

During the first 8 months of 2012, GM said that the company and its joint ventures in China sold 1,837,546 vehicles, up 11.2% from the same period a year ago and a record for the period. Currently, GM has 12 joint ventures, two wholly owned foreign enterprises, and more than 35,000 employees in China.Tim Dunne, director of global automotive analysis at J.D. Power and Associates

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