GM, Chinese Automaker Plan to Cooperate in Developing EVs

SAIC Motor Corp., one of China’s largest auto companies, and General Motors Co. have signed a non-binding memorandum of understanding on strategic cooperation that includes the development of plug-in vehicles.

The companies jointly announced in a news release that they are planning to reinforce their “collaboration in certain core areas of their business, including the development of new-energy vehicles and the creation of a stronger and more integrated role for their Pan Asia Technical Automotive Center automotive engineering and design joint venture to work on future vehicles and powertrains.”

The memorandum’s signing builds on the automakers’ efforts to explore cooperation in Asia’s emerging markets, led by India, and to co-develop two efficient next-generation powertrain families.

A joint effort to develop more new-energy vehicles and components is a core element of the anticipated strategic cooperation, the companies said. It could include the co-development of key components, the adoption of the best solutions produced by either party, the development of a next-generation electric vehicle architecture for China, and the acceleration of electric vehicle technical capabilities in the companies’ China operations.

In addition to a focus on new-energy vehicles, the news release said SAIC and GM anticipate sharing an additional vehicle architecture and powertrain application in an effort to help reduce development costs and benefit from economies of scale. They also plan to further enhance the vehicle and powertrain capabilities of the Pan Asia Technical Automotive Center, while jointly training local research-and-development staff. This would allow both partners to capitalize on new development opportunities in emerging markets.

In the first ten months of 2010, SAIC and GM’s Shanghai GM joint venture sold about 843,000 vehicles in China. SAIC-GM-Wuling has been the largest mini-vehicle manufacturer in China for four consecutive years. Last year, SGMW became China’s first vehicle manufacturer to top 1 million units of sales and production. It has already reached this mark in 2010.

The areas covered by the memorandum are subject to the negotiation of definitive agreements, the companies said.

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