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General Motors rolls out new Cadillac luxury sedans in China

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General Motors Corp. increased the presence of its Cadillac brand in China on Friday, highlighting the country's growing market for luxury automobiles.

The world's largest carmaker said the Cadillac Seville Luxury Sedan, also known as the SLS, will be priced between 500,000 yuan and 750,000 yuan (US$63,580 to $95,340). It will be assembled in Shanghai.

Compared with the STS sedan on which it is based, the SLS has been lengthened by 10 centimetres to add rear legroom for chauffeur-driven customers.

Luxury car sales in China rose 24.5 per cent in the first eight months of the year, and annual demand for high-end sedans is expected to reach 300,000 units by 2010, GM said in a statement.

Other luxury vehicle makers including Britain's Bentley, a unit of Volkswagen AG, have seen sales surge in China as racing economic growth creates a wealthy elite.

Rolls-Royce, owned by BMW, said Thursday that China has become its No. 3 market after the United States and Britain and it is adding 200 employees to meet demand from China for its US$380,000 Phantom.

GM, beset by sluggish sales and crippling legacy costs, needs China to provide growth it won't find in the United States and other western markets as it engineers its comeback.

While it's closing plants and trimming production in North America, GM is pouring money into China, with plans to spend US$3 billion between 2004 and 2007. It already has five Chinese vehicle factories, along with an engine plant and an auto financing venture, and is quickly expanding dealerships.

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General Motors rolls out new Cadillac luxury sedans in China
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