The cars General Motors sells in the U.S. are increasingly influenced by customers 7,100 miles away: the residents of the People's Republic of China.
The 2012 Buick Verano, a stylish compact sedan, isn't in U.S. showrooms yet, but a similar vehicle has been on sale since June 2010 in China, where it is known as the Buick Excelle GT. The Chevrolet Sonic hatchback that will hit dealers in September was designed in Asia by a joint venture run partly by GM's Chinese partner.
When asked to explain GM's eastward bias, Steve Girsky says, "It's simple: Do the math." GM's joint ventures sold in excess of 2 million vehicles in China last year - more than GM sold in the U.S. - and the company expects to double that number in five years.
It seems the tastes of Chinese customers are beginning to influence cars designed and sold in the U.S. In fact, the interior of the popular Buick LaCrosse was executed in GM's Shanghai design studio.
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