SHANGHAI -- Shanghai Automotive Industry Corp. plans to build and sell a right-hand-drive version of its newly unveiled Roewe 350 hatchback in England, said Chen Zhixing, executive vice president of SAIC. Chen, who is also head of SAIC's own-brand vehicles, made the remarks at a ceremony held earlier this month in the east China city of Nanjing to celebrate the car's start of production.
The new car, which rolled off the production line at SAIC's Pukou plant in Nanjing, has a wheelbase of 2650mm. It is 4520mm long, 1780mm wide and 1,500mm tall. It carries a 1.5-liter gasoline engine and a five-speed automated manual transmission.
Pricing information of the Roewe 350 remains unknown. Chen didn't provide a timeframe for the car's production start or sales launch in England.
SAIC currently has a plant as well as an r&d team in Longbridge, England.
SAIC sold some 90,000 units of its own-brand cars in China in 2009, including both 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 MG 6, would begin in Longbridge 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. Next came the Roewe 550 and MG 6 models, both if which are popular with young professionals in China.
One option for SAIC is to make complete knockdown (CKD) kits for the models in China and have them assembled in the UK-plant, Hu said in January.