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26 Aug, 2008 01:50

Ailing General looks to Russia as growth engine

A senior General Motors executive has styled Russia its “growth engine” for Europe after sales jumped an astonishing 60% year on year. The statement came on the eve of the Moscow Motor Show, where the American automaker is bringing a new range

The 'b' word is now haunting the world's largest carmaker. Analysts say General Motors faces bankruptcy next year if Western drivers keep rejecting their core gas-guzzling range. The Detroit major's lost $38 bln in 18 months, and 80% of its share price. A silver lining is Russia. Chevy sales here are up 45%, Saab 77 and Opel 95% year-on-year. Brent Dewar, Vice President for GM Europe, says Russia is putting the rev into Europe’s sales figures.

“Russia's been a growth engine for Europe.”

The firm's showcasing 10 new cars at the Moscow Motor Show this week as it bids to keep that growth and for Jacek Gorski, CEO of GM CIS, the highlights will be the new concept cars plus a new engine in the Hummer which Russians have taken to.

“Opel, we will see the new Insignia, but we will also show the new Meriva concept. We will see the Saab 94, it's again a concept car, the Cadillac SRX, and we will also show the H3 with the V6 engine which was very much awaited by Hummer fans in Russia.”

While in North America GM's shutting 4 pick-up and SUV plants, in the East they wonder how to fill demand. On Monday GM Europe boss Carl-Peter Forster said if that growth continues they'll have to build a new factory in Russia.