BEIJING Cadillac, General Motors Co’s (GM.N) luxury brand, is predicting a double digit growth rate in China sales this year, the brand’s country chief Andreas Schaaf told Reuters on Tuesday.
The brand – which opened its first dedicated factory in China last year, helping boost Cadillac sales in the country by 46 percent – expects China to become its top market in less than five years, Schaaf added.
Cadillac and Ford’s (F.N) Lincoln are among a second wave of luxury car brands in China, the world’s biggest auto market, that seek to take market share from established brands such as BMW (BMWG.DE), Daimler’s (DAIGn.DE) Mercedes-Benz, and Volkswagen’s (VOWG_p.DE) Audi.
Schaaf said he was “optimistic” for the year ahead, but cautioned growth would be slower than 2016.
“We are expecting another double digit growth in China. Most likely not in the same range as what we have seen last year because growth of nearly 50 percent is truly a very exceptional year,” he said during an interview in Beijing.
Cadillac also plans to launch more products in China ahead of other regions in the future, Schaaf said, helping it buoy its global business and reduce reliance on the U.S. market.
“China is growing the business very rapidly. This helps us in shifting the U.S.-centric view into a more international focus,” Cadillac’s China chief added
The Cadillac brand surpassed Lexus, which does not manufacture locally, in China sales last year to become the fifth best-selling premium marque in the country, after the German “Big Three” and No. 4 Jaguar Land Rover [TAMOJL.UL].
China’s auto market recorded a 13.7 percent rise in sales for 2016, aided partly by a cut in taxes on small-engined vehicles. Sales growth is expected to slow this year as the incentive is phased out by 2018.
(Reporting by Jake Spring; Writing by Adam Jourdan; Editing by Himani Sarkar)