Chinese automaker SAIC spells out plans for its own brand; exports may include U.S. market
By ALYSHA WEBB | AUTOMOTIVE NEWS
AutoWeek | Published 04/14/06, 8:41 am et
BEIJING -- Shanghai Automotive Industry Corp. has spelled out plans to produce its own brand of car for China and for export, possibly to the United States.
The company already assembles cars for China through partnerships with General Motors and Volkswagen AG.
The first model will be a large sedan based on the Rover 75 platform. SAIC acquired the intellectual property rights to the Rover 75 and 25 platforms last year before MG Rover's collapse.
Prototypes of the sedan, which will come with an automatic transmission and V-6 engine, are undergoing safety testing, says David Lindley, chief engineer of SAIC Automotive Engineering Academy. Lindley, a former MG Rover engineer, also is general manager of SAIC Motor Overseas (Europe) R&D Center in England.
Production of the sedan will begin in late 2006, and the model will be launched in 2007. Exports also will begin in 2007.
"Initially, we will target the markets which are former MG Rover markets - the United Kingdom and maybe Spain," says Andy Chen, spokesman for SAIC Motor Manufacturing Co. "In the long-term, (we will export to) the United States and Japan." SAIC Motor Manufacturing is the unit set up to manufacture and market SAIC's brand.
The second model will be a family sedan based on the same platform. It is being developed at the r&d center. At the end of the concept phase, which will be soon, development will pass to SAIC's engineering academy in Shanghai, Lindley says.
As for the name, SAIC hasn't decided on one but should announce its choice by the end of June, SAIC managers say. Sources say the names "Shanghai" and "Phoenix" are being considered.
SAIC aims to introduce five product lines over the next four years, including a hybrid vehicle. More than 30 variations on the various models will be offered, SAIC says. Prices will range from 65,000 yuan to 300,000 yuan, or $8,110 to $37,500 at current exchange rates.
"Our products will not be niche products," says Wang Xiaoqiu, general manager of SAIC Motor Manufacturing. "They will appeal to a wide segment of the population."
By 2010, SAIC plans to sell more than 200,000 of its own brand cars, including 50,000 exports. European sales will be through a wholly owned sales subsidiary.
An overseas dealership network will be established in the second half of 2006, SAIC said without providing details.
The cars will be assembled at an existing plant in Yizheng in Jiangsu province, a few hours from Shanghai. SAIC also is building a plant in the Shanghai suburbs near the Shanghai Volkswagen plant.
Total annual vehicle production capacity will reach 300,000 by 2010, and engine production capacity will hit 400,000, SAIC says. That will include the ability to produce 10,000 alternative-fuel vehicles such as hybrid and hydrogen fuel cell vehicles.
Current vehicle production capacity is 120,000, and engine production capacity is 170,000.