SAIC own-brand car close to launch

PUBLISHED : Monday, 15 January, 2007, 12:00am
UPDATED : Monday, 15 January, 2007, 12:00am

Roewe 750 model targets middle segment of mainland market

The Roewe 750, the first own-brand car manufactured by Shanghai Automotive Industry Corp (SAIC), the largest carmaker in China, is expected to go on sale in the mainland within two weeks, according to car dealers.

Based on designs acquired from the defunct British carmaker Rover, the Roewe is targeted at the middle segment of the Chinese vehicle market.

The car is also expected to spearhead SAIC's eventual push into the export markets.

'The Roewe will go on sale in a week or two. But SAIC is keeping the opening sales date secret for price reasons,' one dealer said.

The company has yet to confirm the price of the Roewe 750 saloon, but dealers expect it to cost between 230,000 yuan and 320,000 yuan.

SAIC will be the first mainland manufacturer to jump into the middle of the market with an own-brand car.

Competitors Geely Holding Group and Chery Automobile make own-brand cars but they have been aimed at the low end of the market.

The marketing communications and public relations departments of SAIC refused to confirm whether the Roewe 750 would go on sale this month.

It said the debut would depend on the completion of promotional work and the availability of sufficient production capacity.

The Roewe 750 is being built according to designs for the Rover 25 and Rover 75, which SAIC bought from the insolvent Rover group for GBP67 million (HK$1.02 billion) in 2004. The model was introduced at the Beijing international car show in November last year.

SAIC has said it plans to introduce 30 own-brand cars in the next five years. It has set annual production of the Roewe 750 initially at 50,000 units.

In December, SAIC injected joint venture businesses such as Shanghai Volkswagen and Shanghai General Motors into its A-share listing vehicles for 19.1 billion yuan. The firm hopes to raise capital to develop its own-brand car business.

China has made producing own-brand cars and becoming a car-exporting power the two most important objectives for its vehicle industry over the next five years.

'Lastly, the locally invested carmakers should be able to compete with multinational carmakers on a fair basis,' said Xu Changming, director of the Information Resources Development Department of the State Information Centre.

The Ministry of Commerce is to impose a licensing system on car exports on March 1 to ensure the quality of cars and trucks that mainland manufacturers sell abroad.

The government aims to increase the value of its vehicle and car-part exports to 10 per cent of the world's vehicle trading volume in the next 10 years from 0.7 per cent.