GM China Exports Chevy New Sail To Chile

SHANGHAI (AP) -- General Motors Co. said Thursday its Shanghai GM joint venture has begun exports of its Chevrolet New Sail, a small family sedan, to Chile and plans to expand such sales to other markets.

Major global automakers are just beginning to use China, the world's biggest vehicle market, as a low-cost manufacturing base for sales in other emerging markets. Demand inside this country has slowed in recent months, easing pressure on automakers to keep up with local orders.

"The New Sail is the first locally developed and manufactured passenger car from an international brand to be exported," Terry Johnsson, Shanghai GM vice president of vehicle sales, service and marketing, said in a statement. "It represents a breakthrough in our strategy to create products for China and other emerging markets."

GM, which holds a 49 percent stake in Shanghai GM, its flagship China joint venture with Shanghai Automotive Industrial Corp., said it plans to sell the car elsewhere in Latin America, North Africa and the Middle East.

The New Sail, which was launched earlier this year, was retooled to suit the Chinese market. About 90,000 were sold in January-September, making it a bestseller for its category, GM says.

GM has exported Chevrolet minivans to Peru and the original model of the Sail to Chile. The company did not provide details on sales or shipments of those models in Latin America, or of its planned sales of the New Sail.

Many local Chinese manufacturers export vehicles, mainly to the developing world but in some cases to Europe and Russia. Volkswagen AG's venture with SAIC has exported the Polo to Australia and Japan's Honda Motor Co. has been successfully exporting its Jazz compact car from China to Europe since 2005.

But so far China has not made much progress in achieving its ambitions to export to major developed markets, such as the U.S. and Europe.