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American Wheels, Chinese Roads: The Story of General Motors in China Hardcover – July 26, 2011


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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 227 pages
  • Publisher: Wiley; 1 edition (July 26, 2011)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0470828617
  • ISBN-13: 978-0470828618
  • Product Dimensions: 6.3 x 0.9 x 9.3 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.1 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (26 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #613,367 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

Review

Who knew that the infighting among fiefdoms within General Motors was topped only by the economic tug-of-war between China's central and regional governments? Well, Michael Dunne knew. China and GM created mutual automotive prosperity almost despite themselves and here is the story, rich with hilarious anecdotes and surprising insights. This book is essential reading, and fun reading, for anyone interested in modern China or international business.
-Paul Ingrassia, Pulitzer prize winning author and Deputy Editor-in-Chief, Reuters News

GM and its Chinese partner, Shanghai Auto, have made billions in profits building Buicks and Chevrolets. But the road to success has never been smooth. Michael Dunne puts readers into the scene to witness both GM's soaring triumphs and bitter setbacks. This book reveals Michael's remarkable sense for how China works and how business there really gets done.
-Jing Ulrich, Managing Director & Chairman of Global Markets, China, J.P. Morgan


Michael Dunne - raised in Detroit, educated in Chongqing, sometime resident of Shanghai, Bangkok, and Jakarta has one of the most unusual profiles in the automotive world. He also has a knack for being in the right place at the right time. As an analyst he witnessed the great Chinese car boom of the past decade, and here he tells the fascinating story of how General Motors, despite its troubles at home, gained a foothold in the People's Republic.
-Peter Hessler, Author of Country Driving and Staff Writer at the New Yorker magazine


If you have any intention of doing business in China, then this is a book that you must read. You don't have to be General Motors to understand the complexities of their society. You don't have to be General Motors to figure out how to do business and succeed in the toughest market in the world. Dunne lets you learn all that General Motors has learned without any of the pain and suffering and bleeding.
-Keith Crain, Editor-in-Chief, Automotive News


I've shared many experiences with Michael Dunne on the front lines of China, and Michael knows China and the automobile market unlike anyone else I've met. His personal adventures and experiences give him a brilliant insight into an American icon's journey into China. He chronicles it with intrigue, analysis, drama and humor. You cant put it down!
-James D. Power IV, Former Executive at J.D. Power and Associates and Co-author of Satisfaction: How Every Great Company Listens to the Voice of the Customer


Michael Dunne has done a superb job of chronicling and analyzing the very important and complex business story of GM in China. He has done this based on his boots on the ground experience of many years in Middle Kingdom and his great depth of understanding of the global auto industry. As we increase the speed of globalization, it is imperative to understand the many complex issues involved from the importance of personal relationships to understanding diverse cultures to even have a chance for success. The deep insight into the high stakes drama in the GM China story reaches well beyond the auto industry and, perhaps, well beyond China. Consequently this is a must-read for all who are involved in global commercial activities.
-David ColeChairman Emeritus, Center for Automotive Research


American Wheels, Chinese Roads is a fascinating portrait of GM's rocky road to success in China. Author Michael Dunne takes you on a wild ride, chronicling the failures, the successes, and the sheer random luck of an American company trying to seal the deal with the Chinese. Dunne's access is unprecedented, his sources second-to-none. This is a book not only about the transformation of an American icon, but about China, revealed in all its complicated beauty.
-Rob Schmitz, China Bureau Chief, Marketplace/American Public Media

From the Inside Flap

How could one company—General Motors—meet disaster on one continent and achieve explosive growth on another at the very same time?

While General Motors was hurtling towards bankruptcy in 2009, GM's subsidiary in China was setting new sales and profit records. This book reveals how extraordinary people, remarkable decisions and surprising breaks made triumph in China possible for General Motors. It also shows just how vulnerable that winning track record remains.

In no small part does GM's success in China spring from its management of shifting business and political relationships. In China, the government makes the rules for—and competes in—the auto industry. GM's business partner, the City of Shanghai, is both an ally and a competitor. How does such an unnatural relationship work on a day-to-day basis? Where will it go in the future?

General Motors also engages in constant battles with other global and Chinese car makers for the hearts of demanding Chinese consumers. Dunne gives us rare glimpses into the mindsets and behavior of this new moneyed set, the world's newest class of wealthy consumers.

China is already the number one car market in the world. During the next ten years, China will export millions of cars and trucks globally, including to the United States. American Wheels, Chinese Roads gives readers fascinating illustrations of what to expect when Chinese cars, companies, and business people arrive on our shores.


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Customer Reviews

4.8 out of 5 stars
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His writing style is direct, engaging and humorous.
jbonnell11
A must read for anyone thinking of doing business in China -- But also a great read for anyone looking for some pure entertainment.
J. Lee
And idiosyncrasies such as this are plentiful in Michael Dunne's fascinating new book, American Wheels Chinese Roads.
Raymond T. Bauer

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

5 of 5 people found the following review helpful By Loyd E. Eskildson HALL OF FAME on August 17, 2011
Format: Hardcover
'American Wheels, Chinese Roads' is essentially a chronological accounting of G.M. in China. The story is interesting because it is well told, explains how G.M.'s China subsidiary set sales and profit records while the parent company raced towards 2009 bankruptcy, and offers insight on how China manages foreign businesses.

G.M.'s partner in China is a subsidiary of the City of Shanghai - SAIC (Shanghai Automotive Industrial Corporation). SAIC also competes with G.M. in China by partnering with VW to produce a 1984-design VW Santana, and producing its own brand - Roewe. All three product lines are built in Shanghai.

G.M. began pursuing production in China in 1989; in 1999 SAIC-G.M. began production. In between, the Chinese played G.M. and Ford against each other; ultimately SAIC was persuaded by Buick's prior luxury image and G.M.'s history of local management at its Brazil plant. G.M. now competes with 50 other car-makers for the 11 million or so cars sold (2010), up from 640,000 in 2000. SAIC-G.M. built over 1 million cars that year (more than G.M. in the U.S.), and reaped almost $1 billion in profits.

Author Dunne tells readers that everything in China starts with a license - to build cars, sell cars, import product, export product, change yuan into dollars, become listed in a stock exchange, etc. To get a license, foreign firms must first get a partner - usually a city or provincial government. Shanghai requires at least $140,000 in capital funds from foreign companies to be deposited in a bank, where it remains until the enterprise is formally closed and any audits completed. Shanghai takes half the profits from SAIC-G.M. manufacturing, as well as half of service profits as well, for products jointly developed.
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6 of 7 people found the following review helpful By befreeworld on August 16, 2011
Format: Hardcover
While the story of GM in China might not appeal to everyone, this book surely will. The book is a well written novel with an eccentric cast of characters. I found myself laughing out loud at least once every chapter and simply couldn't put it down.

The book is filled with stories and anecdotes about doing business in China that are both hilarious and educational.

"Chinese people are very careful with accounts. They watch the money. Someone has to pay for things, and the Chinese always prefer that someone to be someone else.

'Keep the Change,' an expression so familiar to Americans, would sound naive or idiotic (or both) to the average Chinese. To them, money is still a scarce resource. You don't just let someone keep the change."

It is very refreshing to hear the story not from an academic perspective, but from someone who speaks and reads Chinese and has built and operated a business in China and S.E. Asia for over 20 years. The book screams of the challenges, pain and daily grind of building a business in China. From the day you hail a taxi, to navigating the government regulation to the endless changing of the rules and goalposts, Mr. Dunne describes competing inside China as "a street fight with a veneer of civility". Anyone who has never done business in China will find themselves saying over and over and over again "That doesn't seem fair."

The U.S. Government should read Mr. Dunne's three policy recommendations with regard to the Chinese selling their cars in America.

Will GM prevail in the long run? (I sincerely doubt it - but I look forward to reading the follow-up).
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful By W. Small on September 12, 2011
Format: Hardcover
What a great read! Michael Dunne knows his stuff, and the stories and anecdotes that he uses to bring this General Motors in China story to life will keep you laughing, nodding in agreement or shaking your head in despair. Whether you are interested in GM or China, Dunne will tell you a story that reads like both a novel and a cautionary tale. And if you have any concern about the future of the US and China, well, you will find those fears well grounded here - the US and China are locked in firm embrace that may not be a loving one, but may well be `til death do us part.

So when Dunne uses a fabulous anecdote to exhort us not to get out of the elevator, anyone who wants to do business in, or simply understand China should listen.
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5 of 6 people found the following review helpful By Gino on September 14, 2011
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
BEING FROM DETROIT I WAS WELL AWARE OF THE TROUBLES GENERAL MOTORS WAS FACING IN THE AMERICAN CAR MARKET. SALES WERE SHRINKING, PROFITS DISAPPEARED, AND FOREIGN CAR COMPETITION WAS GETTING STRONGER EACH YEAR.

YET, AT THE SAME TIME, GM WAS CREATING A HUGE SUCCESS WITH ITS FLEDGING CAR VENTURE IN THE PEOPLE'S REPUBLIC OF CHINA.

HOW COULD THIS BE?

I FOUND THE ANSWER IN MICHAEL DUNNE'S BOOK, AMERICAN WHEELS.....

THE CONTRAST BETWEEN THE GM'S CHINA PERFORMANCE AND THE HOME TEAM'S EVENTUAL BANKRUPTCY IS BRILLIANTLY PRESENTED. AN EXCEPTIONALLY EASY READ, THAT TAKES THE READER FROM AN EARLY DISASTER (TRUCK TOO BIG, TOO EXPENSIVE) TO TODAY'S PLACE AMONG CHINA'S SALES LEADERS.

LIKE ANY GOOD STORY, MR. DUNNE OFFERS A SURPRISE AT THE END: WITH ALL THE STARS POINTING IN ITS FAVOR, DID GM GIVE AWAY ITS CHINA ADVANTAGE?
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By Raymond T. Bauer on December 26, 2011
Format: Hardcover
I do not say that Michael Dunne is not a gifted analyst and writer. What...that doesn't make sense? It probably would to the average Chinese businessman. And idiosyncrasies such as this are plentiful in Michael Dunne's fascinating new book, American Wheels Chinese Roads.

Dunne deftly dances his way from Beijing to "The Bachelor", from Brazil to Blagojevich, from Gary, Indiana to Geely Motors, from the Red Army to Fr. Ricci, and from Starbucks to Shanghai. I have no experience whatsoever with the automotive industry and yet not only could I follow right along, but I was riveted by the drama. I used to think that the automotive industry was all about the product, but I see now after reading about GM's experience in China that the recipe for success requires equal parts hard work, perseverance, teamwork, timeliness, luck, politics, guts, and some serious gamesmanship.

Michael Dunne is a wizard at weaving together the history, culture, human element, business, and politics of not only China, but the global automotive marketplace. I can't wait for the movie!
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