General Motors and its Chinese partner, SAIC Motor Corp,Ltd. have signed an agreement for the co-development of a new electric vehicle architecture in China.
The Pan Asia Technical Automotive Center – SAIC and GM’s engineering and design joint venture in Shanghai – will serve as the development center for the architecture. Joint teams from the parent companies will also cooperate on the development of key components and vehicle structures.
The agreement will utilize SAIC’s market knowledge and local expertise along with the expertise in electric vehicle GM has developed over the past two decades. It ensures local input in the development of electric vehicle technology and the delivery of products developed in China, GM and its Chinese partner said in a joint statement that followed a meeting of GM's board of directors in Shanghai. It was the first time ever GM's board had met outside the United States.
Chen Hong, SAIC president, said, “Our agreement will enable SAIC and GM to take advantage of economies of scale and get new technology to the market faster than by going it alone. It will help bring about our goal of leading the automotive industry in new energy vehicles and our vision of sustainable transportation, which we introduced at World Expo 2010 Shanghai,” he said.
The Chinese government has backed up from some of its earlier promises to develop a broad electric vehicle industry but the municipal government, SAIC's principal owner, remains one of the leading advocates of EVs in China because of the pollution in the heavily congested Shanghai area where traffic jams are now common.
SAIC also has been pushing GM to turn over more of the intellectual property involved in the development not only of the Chevrolet Volt, which goes on sales in China this fall, but other EV developments. The electric vehicle architecture will be the first to be co-developed by the two companies. Under the agreement, teams of SAIC, GM and PATAC engineers will work together to develop key components, as well as vehicle structures and architectures. Vehicles resulting from the partnership will be sold in China under Shanghai GM and SAIC brands. SAIC and GM will also use the architecture to build electric vehicles around the globe for their own purposes. Product details and timing will be announced at a later date.
SAIC and GM are partners in a total of 10 joint ventures in China, which are engaged in vehicle and powertrain manufacturing, sales and aftersales, automotive engineering and design, automotive finance and telematics, and the sale of used vehicles. The companies’ manufacturing joint ventures, Shanghai GM and SAIC-GM-Wuling, are market leaders in China. In addition, SAIC and GM operate a joint venture in India and SAIC is an investor in GM Korea Co. GM's directors were also given an overview of GMIO and GM China as well as an introduction to SAIC-GM-Wuling’s lineup of models, including the new Baojun 630, which recently went on sale in China and is targeted at customers outside of coastal China The board also visited Shanghai GM, where members participated in the celebration of the production of the joint venture’s 5-millionth vehicle. Shanghai GM, which produced its first vehicle on Dec. 17, 1998, reached the milestone earlier than any other automaker in China.
Another joint venture, Shanghai OnStar Telematics Co., Ltd., has opened its second call center in the city of Xiamen last week underscoring that China is among the fastest-growing telematics markets in the world. The OnStar Xiamen Call Center currently has 200 advisors but capacity for an additional 750 more as customer demand increases. Shanghai OnStar, officially established only two years ago already has nearly 370,000 active customers in China. It achieved a milestone in May when it answered 1 million calls in a single month for the first time.. By Joseph Szczesny