President Trump, Please Help GM Sell the Chevy Silverado to China

Presidential candidate Donald Trump portrayed himself as a master negotiator who will be able to redress the country's bad trade deals with foreign partners. He might consider proving himself in China on behalf of General Motors' (GM) Chevrolet Silverado pickup truck.

With little fanfare, GM said this week it will begin exporting the big pickup to the People's Republic of China. They may only be sold in four provinces, since the vehicle type is banned in most cities due to fears they unduly pollute the air and add to traffic congestion. Given transportation costs for shipping the pickups from North American plants, plus the hefty 25% tariff that China imposes on imported vehicles, GM may not make much or any profit on what looks like an experiment.

Large pickups, the most popular vehicle type sold in the U.S., haven't found much demand overseas. Models like the Silverado, Ford Motor's (F) Ford F Series, Fiat Chrysler Automobiles' (FCAU) Ram, Toyota Motor's (TM) Tundra and Nissan Motor's (NSANY) Titan are idiosyncratic to the big, bold and overstated American way of life. They were designed for urban cowboys, Iowa farmers and lawn sprinkler repairmen.

Such consumer groups aren't conspicuous in China, though who's to say they won't become prominent fairly soon? The country has grown breathtakingly prosperous in a short time and will continue on this path, from all evidence of its enthusiasm for education and commerce. Full-size pickups could find a place in an increasingly consumerist Chinese society, whose citizens more and more visit the U.S. and adopt American cultural traits.

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