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Shanghai, China - Shanghai General Motors (Shanghai GM) announced today it will produce a small car model starting at the end of this year to meet Chinese customers' fast-growing demand for high-quality, affordable vehicles.

Two Buick Sail small cars assembled with imported components will be on display at the Shanghai International Industry Fair - New and High Tech Achievements Exhibition 2000, which opens Tuesday. Sail comes from the Chinese words Sai Ou.

The 1.6-litre Buick Sail is based on the highly successful Opel Corsa sold in some 80 countries. The compact car, which has won more than 80 awards worldwide, is being tailored to meet Chinese road and market conditions by the Pan Asian Technical Automotive Center, a 50-50 joint venture of GM and Shanghai Automotive Industry Corp. and will introduce numerous first-in-class features for the segment.

The Buick Sail will be the third distinct model to go into production at the world-class Shanghai GM plant since it began producing cars in December 1998. Shanghai GM's already world-class flexible manufacturing system moves a new level by producing Sail on the same production line as the existing Buick models, which includes five versions of sedan and the wagon.

Though final pricing has not been set, the base model with a manual transmission is expected to start at about 100,000 reminbi (about $12,000). The first pre-pilot car is scheduled to come off the line in December. Deliveries will start via Shanghai GM's dealership network in more than 60 Chinese markets in the first half of next year and be supported by SGM's service and aftersales network.

"Taking into consideration the affordability and expectation of Chinese family car users, Buick Sail will be highly competitive in price with no compromise in providing the users a high-quality ownership experience," said Shanghai GM President Chen Hong.

"The Buick Sail will be like the Buick sedans and the Buick GL8 executive wagon in terms of setting a benchmark in performance, safety, comfort and environmental protection for the segment."

Among other first-in-class safety features, every Buick Sail will have standard driver and passenger dual air-bags, four-wheel antilock brakes, safety cage body construction and energy-absorbing front and rear crush zones.

Other safety features include steel door beams that protect passengers from slide collision and a steering column, which automatically retracts upon external impact to protect passengers from chest and abdomen injury.

The Sail, which can run for 100 kilometers on six liters of fuel, features a catalytic converter and unleaded gasoline system that meets Euro II emission standards. A 46-liter fuel tank allows Sail to cruise between fill-ups in city and highway driving.

The Buick Sail was announced as the Chinese government has decided to step up efforts to increase personal auto ownership among urban dwellers as part of the Tenth Five-Year Plan (2001-2005.)

"This is expected to turn auto consumption into a major driver of China's economic growth,'' Chen said, "We believe Chinese customers deserve an affordable family car of high quality that employs safety, excellent performance, and comfortable driving experience. Buick Sail is our response to such an expectation."

Buick Sail also provides a comfortable riding and driving experience. An optional hydraulic power-steering system enables easy handling. The suspension has been re-tuned for China's road conditions. Together with 185mm tires, the suspension ensures a smooth ride on different roads. Power windows are standard and a 39-liter trunk allows for ample cargo carrying.

The Buick Sail is equipped with an electronic-controlled sequential fuel-injection system, matched by a standard 5-speed manual transmission. A 4-speed automatic transmission is optional.

"The family car segment is the one that has the highest growth potential over the next five to 10 years," said Philip Murtaugh, chairman and chief executive officer of GM China. "We're pretty excited about the opportunity in the small car market."

With a total investment of 1.52 billion, Shanghai GM is a 50/50 joint venture between General Motors and Shanghai Automotive Industry (Group) Corporation. It was established in June 1997 and started producing Buick sedan at the end of 1998.

Source: Buick Motor Division
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