SHANGHAI—Although it has been closing plants and offering early retirements in the United States, General Motors Corp. is enjoying boom times in Asia. For the world's largest vehicle manufacturer, 2004 was a record year in China, with 492,000 units sold representing a 27-percent increase in vehicle sales. With its sales outperforming the industry as a whole, GM's market share rose from 8.5 percent at the end of 2003 to an estimated 9.3 percent at the end of 2004.

"For GM and our domestic joint ventures in China, 2004 represented a solid year," says Phil Murtaugh, chairman of General Motors' China Group. "Despite an overall slowdown in the growth of the vehicle market in mid-2004, we maintained our momentum by introducing new and upgraded products and services to meet the needs of a wide range of vehicle buyers nationwide."

Among other brands making their first appearance in China in 2004 was Cadillac, which premiered at Auto China 2004 in Beijing with the CTS luxury sedan entering the market soon afterward.

In June, China also announced a series of investments in new products, powertrains and production facilities. Pending Chinese government approval, GM plans to invest more than $3 billion in the country over the next 3 years.