SAIC's Roewe 750 goes on sale

PUBLISHED : Thursday, 01 February, 2007, 12:00am
UPDATED : Thursday, 01 February, 2007, 12:00am

The Roewe 750, the first own-brand car built by SAIC Motor Corp, the A-share listing vehicle of Shanghai Automotive Industry Corp, went on sale yesterday.

Priced at 231,800 to 276,800 yuan, the three models are targeted at the middle of the domestic car market, particularly the niche now occupied by the Toyota Camry.

SAIC said it initially planned to produce 50,000 Roewes per year.

The industry knew the release of the Roewe was imminent, although the price and the actual date had been carefully kept secrets.

While SAIC trumpets the Roewe as its own creation, the model will have a familiar look, especially for Europeans, because it is based on designs for the Rover 25 and the Rover 75, acquired from Britain's now-defunct Rover Group for GBP67 million (HK$1.02 billion) in 2004.

On Tuesday, Nanjing Automobile Group Corp said it would begin producing MG models next month.

Nanjing Auto acquired Britain's MG Rover in 2005 for US$97 million, outbidding its competitor, SAIC.

Building mid-range 'own-brand' cars under its own name is the latest attempt by Nanjing Auto to revive its fortunes.

The company spent 10 years in an unsuccessful joint venture with Italy's Fiat.

'The market is more positive to the launch of own-brand cars by SAIC than by Nanjing Auto on the grounds of both company structure and marketing strategies,' said Yale Zhang, a director of Shanghai-based market researcher CSM Worldwide Consultancy.

SAIC has said it planned to introduce 30 own-brand cars in the next five years.

In December, the carmaker injected its stakes in joint-venture businesses such as Shanghai Volkswagen and Shanghai General Motors, valued at 19.1 billion yuan, into its A-share entity.

The firm hopes to raise capital to develop its own-brand car business.