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Self-brand cars' sales accelerate

CHINA'S top automobile maker, SAIC Motor Co, said yesterday it boosted sales of its own-brand passenger cars by fourfold in the first quarter to 18,000 units on an annual basis.

Meanwhile, at the Auto Shanghai 2009 show, the Shanghai-based company unveiled three new models using new energy sources.

"To build our own brands and develop new energy vehicles is a historic mission for SAIC," Chairman Hu Maoyuan told reporters at the show.

SAIC, which makes automobiles at joint ventures with General Motors Corp and Volkswagen AG, also manufactures the self-developed MG and Roewe sedans.

The Roewe 550 model, a self-brand mid-class car launched in June, has reached almost 5,000 units in monthly sales to become a main player in the most competitive auto market segment in China, according to Hu.

Sales of self-brand cars could rise to 50,000 units in 2009 from 36,000 last year, President Chen Hong has said, although the number was still modest compared with SAIC's all-passenger car sales of 1.03 million units in 2008.

SAIC is also speeding up the development of new energy vehicles. Its parent, Shanghai Automotive Industry Corp Group, yesterday signed an accord with the local government to provide nearly 1,000 new energy vehicles, including all-electric, fuel cell and hybrids, for the 2010 World Expo.

One of the new energy models on display at the show is its Roewe 750 hybrid, China's first own-brand hybrid car with mass production to start by the end of 2010.

Still, SAIC remained "cautiously optimistic" over the overall domestic auto market this year, although the market rebounded strongly in the first quarter of the year as the central government introduced stimulus measures.


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