SHANGHAI (AP) -- General Motors Co. said Thursday it plans to open a new research center in Shanghai focused on developing "breakthrough" auto technologies for the future.
The China Science Lab, to be based at GM's manufacturing complex in Shanghai's Jinqiao district, will work on advanced engine technology, battery cells, safety research, driverless vehicles and light materials, the company said.
"Our aim is to develop breakthrough technologies that will differentiate GM vehicles in the marketplace and build on GM's long history of industry firsts," Alan Taub, vice president for global research and development, told reporters.
"China has begun emerging as a world class research hub for automotive technology," Taub said.
The new research facility plans to hire about 100 staff initially, both from overseas and China. It will be headed by John Du, former general manager of Intel Corp.'s China Research Center.
GM provided no financial information about its investment in the wholly owned project, which GM executives said will collaborate with the local automotive research institutions.
China's auto industry overtook the U.S. in market size earlier this year as sales surged, thanks partly to government subsidies for purchases of fuel efficient, smaller cars. While GM and its local partners are among the market leaders, they face aggressive competition both from global rivals and domestic automakers.
To help burnish its R&D prowess, the company's joint corporate pavilion with local partner Shanghai Automotive Industrial Corp. at next year's Shanghai Expo will highlight those efforts, demonstrating transportation concepts and technology for the future.
GM kicked off its "Drive to 2030" campaign Thursday with an exhibit featuring past technology achievements at the Automobile Museum in the Shanghai suburb of Anting.
"GM has been a technology leader for the first century of the auto industry and we are committed to being the technology leader for the second century," Taub said.