GM Japan expects Cadillac ATS to boost sales
TOKYO -- General Motors says its sales in Japan are up 28 percent this year. It expects another increase in 2013 from the launch of the Cadillac ATS sport sedan.
The gain in Japan shows how GM's strategy of making Cadillac and Chevrolet its two global brands is playing out in the country, a large market dominated by local brands.
Gregg Sedewitz, director of sales and marketing for GM Japan, declined to give sales figures so far this year in this finicky market. But the volume is tiny.
Chevrolet sales in Japan climbed 23 percent to 1,210 units through October, according to the Japan Automobile Importers Association. Cadillac's fell 11 percent to 1,017. Those figures include sales from independent importers and gray marketers.
GM Japan's direct sales, excluding the gray-market imports, rose partly because Japan's auto market rebounded. Through October, overall imports rose 14 percent to 257,206, while the total market jumped 34 percent to 4,637,276.
GM Japan's results were padded by the fact that GM took over imports to Japan that had been handled by trading house Mitsui & Co. That allowed GM to count nameplates such as the Cadillac Escalade, which last year had been imported by Mitsui.
GM Japan also enjoyed a full year of sales of the Chevy Sonic small car, which it introduced here in November 2011. In recent years, the company also has added the South Korea-built Chevrolet Captiva crossover.
Despite the meager volume, GM says it's forging ahead with small-but-steady growth plans in Japan. The company is moving away from its role as a niche purveyor of sports cars such as the Corvette and Camaro. It now pitches more mainstream offerings such as the ATS, Sonic and Captiva.
"It has really changed the dynamic in the showroom and brought a lot of new people into Chevrolet," Sedewitz said at the ATS' Japan unveiling. "We want to become more mass and increase our scale from being superniche with a broader portfolio."
The Cadillac ATS goes on sale March 13. Sedewitz expects incremental sales growth next year from that introduction. He declined to give a sales target, but predicted the ATS will be the top-selling Cadillac nameplate, and the Captiva will pace all GM nameplates.
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