GM accelerates China's push with electric Cadillacs

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NEW YORK – General Motors is preparing to sell electric versions of its luxury Cadillac brand, defying Tesla and other high-end competitors in the growing green car market in China.

GM already offers various electric vehicles like the Chevrolet Bolt. The company plans to extend this option to Cadillacs, popular with wealthy Chinese, hoping to conquer a larger segment of the world's largest car market for both classic cars and cars.

Executive Director Mary Barra spoke of the Cadillac electric projects at a shareholder event on Friday, although the US automaker has not yet identified specific models or announced their release date. The Cadillac electric will probably be equipped with new batteries developed by GM, which could allow vehicles to travel about 480 km full charge.

New car sales in China are expected to decline in 2018 for the first time in 28 years. Although GM's global sales in China have also declined, the Cadillac brand itself has grown 17% to more than 200,000 units.

Barra said he expects long-term growth in China despite the short-term challenges. The automaker will publish more than 20 new and updated models in the country this year.

The CEO also defended GM's decision in November to close five factories in North America, a move that sparked criticism from President Donald Trump. Regulatory hurdles and the changing business environment compel society to act when the economy is strong, she said.

In line with North American production rationalization, GM will reduce the number of models under its Chevrolet and Buick brands. The automaker also plans to introduce eight models to common designs and components in emerging economies such as China, Brazil and Mexico, replacing existing ones that can not be produced as efficiently.