GM execs talk of expansion Buoyed by the success of the Buick Enclave and hopeful about the prospects for the important Chevrolet Malibu, General Motors' top executives spoke optimistically Tuesday of the corporation's plans for expansion at home in North America and around the world.
GM Chairman Rick Wagoner and Vice Chairman Bob Lutz said they expect the 2008 Malibu, expected to go on sale in November, to far exceed the current model's sales and win customers from other brands in the huge and fiercely competitive midsize sedan market. Wagoner said that GM is looking at several options to boost its sales in southeast Asia, including a possible deal with Malaysian automaker Proton, and that the company may expand in the fast-growing Russian market.
Meanwhile, GM has decided to add models to its Buick brand, Lutz said. Fueled by the success of Buick's new Enclave SUV and strong showings in customer satisfaction and quality surveys, "there's now a consensus within GM that Buick is alive and well and can appeal to young people," Lutz said. Buick was thought to be a candidate for elimination just a couple of years ago. Lutz did not give details of the plans for Buick.
At the other end of the price spectrum, Wagoner said GM will develop more low-cost vehicles for emerging markets over the next 10 years. He added that they would not necessarily be extremely small vehicles, saying that GM would use updated versions of older models it has sold in the rest of the world.
"There's a huge amount of growth coming from emerging markets" such as southeast Asia and India, where GM also is expanding its production and development capability, he said.
At home, he said the company is looking for aggressive ways to spread the word about new cars like the Malibu.
"We see big upside for the Malibu. It could do a lot better" than the current model, Wagoner said. The current Malibu was GM's third-best selling car with 163,853 sales last year. "A lot better," he added with emphasis, saying that GM has ambitious goals for the car.
Lutz said the company will push the Malibu by reaching out to the "huge number" of satisfied owners of Chevrolet and GMC SUV owners who also own cars from companies other than GM. More at Detroit Free Press
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