General Motors opened a new, large vehicle test track in China Saturday as part of its push to retain its leading market share in the world’s largest auto market.
The No. 1 US automaker and its joint venture partners, including SAIC Motor, invested about $252.5 million to build what GM China President Kevin Wale called the country’s largest proving ground.
The 1,400-acre (560-hectare) facility was opened in Guangde County, East China’s Anhui Province, and will employ about 100 people as part of GM’s drive to develop vehicles faster in a market where it had a leading 14 percent share last year.
GM previously used tracks owned by other companies or the government to test vehicles, or shipped cars to other countries, including South Korea or the US, Wale said.
“You can use proving grounds elsewhere in the world, but you have to ship cars, which is a waste of time and a tremendous waste of money,” he said. “If you can have a world-class proving ground in improving the cars, you’re going to build better cars and you’re going to save a lot of time in development.”
GM is making the investment despite a slowing in the Chinese auto market because it is focused on the long-term growth prospects, Wale said. He still expected overall industry sales this year to finish between 19.5 million and 20 million vehicles up from 18.5 million last year.