General Motors is looking to step into the pickup truck segment in China, according to documents found on the Chinese Ministry of Industry and Information Technology website.
As reported by Automotive News, General Motors is looking to engage in a joint venture with SAIC Motor and Guangxi Automobile Group to build pickups for the Chinese market. The group recently sought approval to build its first pickup model Zhengtu.
For the moment, the pickup segment in China remains quite niche, with pickups representing less than two percent of sales in China.
According to the China Association of Automobile Manufacturers, roughly 250,000 pickups were sold in China during the first seven months of the 2020 calendar year. That figure represents a small 1.4 percent fall compared to the same time period last year, but was well above the overall automotive sales drop of 12.7 percent during the same period.
Nevertheless, General Motors appears interested in pushing forward with new entries in the segment.
Currently, the Chinese pickup segment is dominated by Great Wall Motor, which saw pickup sales up 38 percent in the first seven months of 2020, driven primarily by its new P-Series models.
Geely Auto Group is also reportedly interested in stepping into the Chinese pickup segment. The company recently showed off its first pickup model at a company event, and has a new production facility under construction in the city eastern city of Zibo, which will be capable of producing 100,000 units annually. That includes new pickup models as well.
However, even as the Chinese government eases restrictions on pickup truck models and allows entry into urban areas, demand for the body style is expected to remain a niche affair.
“There is still a lack of demand for pickup trucks from normal Chinese customers,” said secretary general at China Passenger Car Association, Cui Dongshu. “They are more familiar with SUVs and sedans.”