Hu Sheng, Automotive News Europe, 24th March, 2010
SHANGHAI — Shanghai Automotive Industry Corp. plans to build and sell a right-hand drive hatchback version of its newly unveiled Roewe 350 in England, said Chen Zhixin, Executive Vice President of SAIC.
Chen, who is also head of SAIC’s own brand vehicles, made the remarks at the ceremony held last week in the east China city of Nanjing marking the new car’s roll-off from the production line.
The new car, which rolled off the production line at SAIC’s Pukou plant in Nanjing, has a wheelbase of 2,650mm. It is 4,520mm long, 1,780mm wide and 1,500 high. It carries a 1.5-liter gasoline engine and a five-speed automated mechanical transmission.
Pricing information of the Roewe 350 remains unknown. Chen didn’t provide a timeframe for the car’s production in England. At present, SAIC has a plant as well as an R&D team in Longbridge in England.
SAIC sold some 90,000 units of its own brand cars in China in 2009, including both the Roewe- and MG-branded models. The company, a General Motors Co. and Volkswagen AG partner in China, expects to double the sales of its own brand cars this year.
In January, SAIC said it plans to sell UK-made MG cars in Europe at the end of the year. Assembly of MG-series models, including the MG6, would begin at its Longbridge plant in England late this year, SAIC Chairman Hu Maoyuan told Reuters on the sidelines of Shanghai’s annual People’s Political Consultative Conference.
Hu said MG models would not only be sold in Britain but also in other European countries through the existing MG sales network.
SAIC became the owner of MG Rover’s 10,000-unit Longbridge plant in Birmingham, central England in 2007, after a merger with its much smaller peer, Nanjing Automobile Group. Nanjing had aquired MG Rover in 2005 after Britain’s last remaining domestic volume carmaker collapsed through financial difficulties.
SAIC launched its first self-developed car, the Roewe 750, based on technologies acquired from MG Rover, in March of that year, followed by the Roewe 550 and MG6 models, popular with young, elite professionals in China.
One option for SAIC is to make complete knocked down (CKD) kits for the models in China and have them assembled in the UK-plant, Hu said in January.
[Source: Automotive News Europe]
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