SHANGHAI -- Changan Automobile Co. has opened a technical center in the UK to support development of global powertrains.
The new center in Nottingham, central England, initially will employ 25 to 30 locally recruited engineers. By 2013, it will have about 300 engineers, Changan Automobile said in a statement.
The state-owned Chinese automaker will gain "full access to the U.K.'s advantages in the development of engines and transmissions to quickly update its own powertrain development," Changan said.
The center, which opened June 28, also will support Changan's development of electric vehicles and hybrids.
Currently, Changan operates a joint venture with Ford Motor Co. in Chongqing, in southwest China. Changan also builds its own minivans and compact sedans for the domestic market.
The company exports vehicles to other emerging markets, and it has built assembly plants in Malaysia, Vietnam, Iran and Egypt. But Changan has yet to enter mature markets such as Europe and North America.
The company's technical center in the UK will develop products for those mature markets, in Europe and elsewhere.
"Over the next few years, the r&d center in England will develop itself into a core global powertrain development center for Changan," the company said.
Changan also has opened r&d centers in Turin, Italy, and Yokohama, Japan. Both focus on vehicle styling and interiors.
In China, Changan runs four r&d centers in Chongqing, Beijing, Jingdezhen and Harbin.
After acquiring two other state-owned makers of minivans and small cars -- Hafei Motor Co. and Jiangxi Changhe Automobile Co. -- Changan is China's largest manufacturer of own-brand vehicles.
Through May, Changan sold 652,407 vehicles under the Changan, Hafei and Changhe brands, according to Automotive Resources Asia, a unit of J.D. Power and Associates.