SHANGHAI -- General Motors will push next-generation electric drivetrains aggressively in the world's biggest auto market, starting with the debut of the Volt extended-range hybrid this year.
GM China chief Kevin Wale, aiming to double sales in China by 2015, said China is booming but still light on hybrid and electric cars. He said it is ripe for more battery-powered cars, partly because of government plans to cut oil consumption.
"We believe China is in a great position to adopt the next generation of vehicles," Wale said at the Automotive News China Conference. "In addition to selling our next-generation global products, we are also exploring producing and developing new energy vehicles here in China."
GM will introduce the Chevrolet Volt in China this year as part of a global rollout and bring the Buick LaCrosse equipped with eAssist mild hybrid technology. At this month's Shanghai auto show, GM also introduced the Buick Envision SUV plug-in hybrid concept.
After the Shanghai show, GM will launch a drivable version of the Sail electric concept car shown at the 2010 Beijing auto show, Wale said. That car was developed at GM's Pan Asia Technical Automotive Center joint venture in Shanghai.
GM's move to develop and sell cars with electrified drivetrains in China comes as rivals announce similar plans.
At the Shanghai auto show, Honda announced plans to begin building an electric vehicle in China in 2012, while Toyota said it would start making drivetrain components such as batteries, motors and inverters here for the locally assembled Prius hybrid.
"We plan to remain a leader in promoting the electrification of our industry here in China," Wale said. "This is a major focus of the industry and of the Chinese government."
As part of that plan, GM is developing a next-generation electric vehicle infrastructure for China and building a battery laboratory in Shanghai to develop new power packs, he said.
Wale said infrastructural issues are not a major concern in China.
"The electric grid is able to handle a massive amount of electric vehicles," Wale said. "The charging infrastructure can be addressed on an incremental basis.
"The first issue is that it's new technology and customers need to get comfortable with that new technology, and that happens over time."
Prior to the Shanghai auto show, GM announced plans to double its sales volume in China from about 2.35 million units in 2010 to around 5 million units by 2015.