G.M. Thrives in China With Small, Thrifty Vans: "In this obscure corner of southern China, General Motors seems to have hit on a hot new formula: $5,000 minivans that get 43 miles to the gallon in city driving. That combination of advantages has captivated Chinese buyers, propelling G.M. into the leading spot in this nascent car market. ..
The minivans, which G.M. builds in a joint venture with a Chinese partner, have a quarter the horsepower of American minivans, weak acceleration and a top speed of 81 miles an hour. The seats are only a third the thickness of seats in Western models but look plush compared with some Chinese cars. ..
The utilitarian minivans and pickups are mainly purchased in China by small-business owners in towns and smaller cities, who drive them both to carry supplies for their businesses and to transport their families. .. The minivans have been a big hit, helping G.M. sell more than 170,000 very small vehicles - automobile types not available in the United States - and to pass Volkswagen this year in sales in a market that VW has dominated for two decades. They have helped turn China into G.M.'s biggest center of automotive profit - in contrast to losses in manufacturing operations in the United States - and its second-largest market in terms of the number of vehicles sold, after the United States...
The Chinese government has also encouraged a shift toward more efficient models through stringent fuel-economy regulations, even as Congress has opted for more subsidies for oil production and a limit on hybrid car subsidies .." 5:32:53 AM