SHANGHAI -- Shanghai Automotive Industry Corp. expects to start mass producing its first hybrid before the end of 2010, sources say.
The car will be based on SAICs existing Roewe 750, says an SAIC source.
The Roewe 750 is a large-segment sedan based on the Rover 75 platform that SAIC purchased from the England-based MG Rover Group in early 2005.
The car will be a mild hybrid, which uses an electric motor to assist propulsion. The electric motor cannot power the car alone.
Fitted with a lithium-ion battery, the hybrid will burn 20 percent less fuel than the standard Roewe 750, says the SAIC source.
US-based supplier Johnson Controls Inc. will supply the lithium-ion battery, while UK engine technology company Ricardo is working on the revised powertrain, according to industry sources familiar with the situation.
SAIC also plans to launch an electric car after the hybrid, but no timeframe has been announced.
In November 2008, SAIC set up a subsidiary in Shanghai dedicated to developing cars that will run on alternative energy.
With an investment of 2 billion yuan (about 225 million), the new subsidiary will specialize in the development of powertrain and control systems for SAICs hybrid and electric cars, according to an SAIC statement.
In 2005, SAIC partnered with the automotive engineering school of Shanghai-based Tongji University to develop new-energy vehicles, including fuel cell cars.
But SAICs recent moves indicate that the state-owned automaker has shelved development of fuel cell vehicles, says Duan Chengwu, a technical research analyst with Global Insight in Shanghai.