General Motors sets & "radical" plan to offer only 3-cylinder engines in some Chinese cars: sources

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Peking: General Motors is aggressively promoting three-cylinder engines in China where some Buick and Chevrolet models were only offered in this option – a move that proved to be extremely unpopular and contributed to a drop in sales, those familiar with the matter People.

Three-cylinder petrol engines are cleaner and more fuel efficient than traditional four-cylinder petrol engines, and automakers are keen to promote them, especially in China, where some of the world's strictest fuel consumption and emissions regulations apply.

GM went further than the competition and discontinued the four-cylinder versions for many models in the largest car market in the world. For comparison: Honda Motor Co and BMW also offer three-cylinder in China, but the models are an option in addition to the four-cylinder versions.

However, many Chinese consumers find cars with three-cylinder engines noisier and more prone to vibration, and sales declined in the third quarter of 2018. Last year, GM's sales in China fell 15% to 3.09 million vehicles, the second year in a row with sharp declines and the lowest level since 2012.

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The move was "too fast, too radical, and lacking in planning," a Shanghai-based Buick dealer sales manager told Reuters.

The sales manager, who was not authorized to speak to the media and refused to be identified, said his company was among the hundreds of retailers that were pushing GM to change the plan at dealer conferences.

By reviving the four-cylinder options for key models, GM, which reports a fourth-quarter profit later on Wednesday, is expected to regain some of the lost ground when the new corona virus faces a decline in sales in the first quarter.

The outbreak only aggravates the pain caused by a slowdown in the economy, trade tensions between the United States and China, new emissions regulations and fierce competition between Toyota Motor Corp and Volkswagen AG.

SAIC-GM, the main company of the Detroit-based automaker with SAIC engine, applies for approval of four-cylinder versions of two sedans for the mass market, Buick & # 39; s Excelle GT and Chevrolet & # 39; s Cruze, according to government documents.

These two versions are expected to be released sometime in the second quarter, said two knowledgeable people, adding that four-cylinder versions of the Buick Verano sedan and Encore GX Sport Utility Vehicle could also be used.

A Shanghai-based GM spokeswoman said the automaker will continue to offer three- and four-cylinder engines in the future, but declined to comment on product plans.