GM Shuffles Marketing Team In China, Where Sales Are Slipping

Joseph Liu Assumes Asia/Pacific Role, While Terry Johnsson Takes Over As VP-Marketing Spot At Shanghai GM

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SHANGHAI ( -- General Motors has promoted Joseph Liu to VP-sales and marketing, Asia/Pacific, a role previously held by Jim Raymond, from VP-vehicle sales, service and marketing in China.

Mr. Liu was also VP-marketing at Shanghai GM, a joint venture between General Motors and Shanghai Automotive Industry Corp. (SAIC). Mr. Raymond has retired from GM.
Joseph Liu
Joseph Liu
China has been one of GM's bright spots. While car sales in the U.S. are falling and demand in Europe and Japan is flat, sales have grown substantially over the past two years in China, already the world's No. 2 vehicle market after the U.S.

GM produces three models in China -- Buick, Chevrolet and Cadillac. Buick has been a popular mid-range car since it debuted in 1999, attracting ambitious entrepreneurs and senior government officials, but mass-market Chevrolet has caught up fast.

The U.S. auto giant has banked on a strong performance in China, now GM's third largest market globally after the U.S. and Brazil, and one of the fastest growing.

GM and its joint ventures, namely SAIC, sold 1,031,974 vehicles in China last year, setting a new record for global automakers. It also made GM the market leader among global automakers in China for the third consecutive year.

But car sales in China are starting to slip for all auto manufacturers, due to the downturn in the global economy, natural disasters such as the earthquake in Sichuan province in May 2008 and an increase in prices of raw materials and petroleum.

In September, China's passenger car sales dropped for the second consecutive month. Car makers sold a combined 552,800 passenger cars, including sedans, sport-utility vehicles and multi-purpose vehicles, a 1.4% decline from the same month last year, according to the China Association of Automobile Manufacturers. Sales fell 6.24% in August, the first year-on-year drop in the past two years.

Nick Reilly, GM's president-Asia/Pacific, has stated publicly that the company's vehicle sales in China were down in both August and September, compared with those two months a year earlier, but the company has not released sales figures for either month.

GM's arch-rival in China, Volkswagen Group, is also worried about a recent sales drop because "the global financial market is very unstable," said Winfried Vahland, VW's president-CEO for China in Beijing. "[VW] will do our best to overcome the huge challenge in the next months."

Johnsson Will Lead Shanghai GM Marketing
Mr. Liu began his career with GM in 2000, as managing director, Taiwan based in Taipei.

In 2001, he relocated to Shanghai to take over marketing and distribution of brands and products sold by GM and Shanghai GM in China.
Terry Johnsson
Terry Johnsson

Terry Johnsson, currently president and managing director of GM's operation in the Middle East, will succeed Mr. Liu as VP-marketing at Shanghai GM. Both appointments are effective Nov. 1.

Mr. Johnsson joined GM in 1984, in marketing and product planning, and has held leadership roles at GM in various overseas markets, including 10 years in Asia/Pacific.

He has also worked in Europe, Latin America and Africa. During his tenure in the Middle East, GM's sales volume tripled and market share doubled, moving GM from sixth to second place in that region.

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