General Motors, the world’s largest car maker, has more problems. It has announced a loss of nearly 850 million euros in the first three months of this year. That was due to weaker sales of cars in the US, more expensive materials to build its vehicles and growing costs for health care for its workers. It is the biggest loss since GM came close to bankruptcy in 1992.
With sales flagging world wide, car makers are looking to China to turn around their fortunes.
GM is one of those. It has just said it will invest 2.3 billion euros in China in the next two years, to double its production of vehicles there. Though it is a huge potential market, the latest figures show that Chinese sales growth has been tapering off lately.
But that has not stopped Ford from pressing on with plans for a new engine plant in eastern China. It is a joint venture with Japan’s Mazda and the Chinese company Changan. At the announcement ceremony, Mazda’s President Hisakazu Imaki did not seem to be troubled by recent violent anti-Japanese demonstrations in China, as he called for “strong support for the new plant.”
It is due to be built near Nanjing where, in 1937, Japanese troops killed an estimated 300,000 Chinese. Japanese history books that allegedly ignore such atrocities have led to some of the current anti-Japanese feeling. The car manufacturers do not apparently see a connection between that public anger and their investment programme. The engine plant is planned to join another Ford factory being built in Nanjing, which is due to produce as many as 400,000 cars annually.