I interviewed, Joseph Liu, Executive Director, Vehicle Sales, Service and Marketing, GM China Group at the 2008 Beijing auto show.

[source GM China]

GM Chairman Helps Open China Automotive Energy Research Center, Addresses Tsinghua University Students

Beijing, China “ General Motors Corp. Chairman and CEO Rick Wagoner participated in the opening of the China Automotive Energy Research Center (CAERC) this morning at Tsinghua University in Beijing. He later gave an address to the universitys student body.

CAERC is a joint effort of GM, Shanghai Automotive Industry Corp. Group (SAIC) and Tsinghua University. The non-profit scientific research and educational institution, which is located at Tsinghua University, is the first professional research institution in the area of automotive energy in China. It will support the development of a national automotive energy strategy specifically for China while serving as a training base for high-level and multidisciplinary research talent.

“Automotive energy is one of the core energy and environmental challenges facing our world today,” said Wagoner. “By working with two strong partners in SAIC and Tsinghua University, our goal is to help China move away from it’s reliance on petroleum-based fuel and toward sustainable transportation.”

CAERC will conduct multidisciplinary, systematic and in-depth research, leveraging the technical and human resources of it’s parent companies. At the same time, it will work with various organizations in government, the academic community and related industries in China in order to participate in the formulation and discussion of Chinas overall energy policy.

CAERC represents one of the key initiatives that are part of GMs major new collaborative strategy announced last October for promoting energy-efficient and environmentally friendly transportation in China.

During his address to more than 200 Tsinghua University students, Wagoner said there are two huge trends that are transforming not just the global automotive industry, but society itself.

The first is globalization, in particular the rapidly growing role and importance of emerging markets. The second is the rapid development of advanced propulsion technology, and the transformational impact that it is having on industry around the world. According to Wagoner, these trends are changing the way companies do business.

“Globalization has become a key driving force of any companys business strategy,” he said. “For GM to succeed globally, we believe we must succeed in China and other emerging markets.” Emerging markets within Asia Pacific are predicted to account for about two-thirds of global automotive sales growth over the next 10 years.

Said Wagoner, “The extraordinary growth in emerging markets is helping to drive the need to develop robust alternatives to the worlds almost-complete reliance on oil.” He referred to finding new ways to power automobiles as “a challenging assignment, but also an extraordinary opportunity.” Realizing this opportunity, he said, would require that governments, companies, and people come together to make it happen.

“To really deliver on the promises of advanced technology, we must all work together,” Wagoner said. He pointed out that China has a leading role to play and, in fact, is in a position to become a leader in the development and adoption of new technologies.

He closed by saying, “What I have learned in the more than 30 years since I was a university student is that things change “ and they change fast. And each of us can play a constructive role in these changes.”