TIANJIN, China – Shanghai Automotive Industry Corp. will launch a diesel-powered version of its Roewe 550 sedan in Europe in late 2011 or 2012, Gao Weimin, head of SAIC's technology center, said.
Gao said the company will begin sales of a 550 gasoline car in Europe by the end of this year. He was speaking at an industry forum held in the north China city of Tianjin.
SAIC, China's biggest automaker, is moving ahead with plans to revive the British automaker it took over three years ago. Its cars will be sold under the MG brand through MG's European dealers.
Developed on a shortened Rover 75 platform, the 550 compact sedan has a 1.8-liter turbocharged gasoline engine. In the first half, SAIC sold 54,145 Roewe 550 cars and 11,413 units of its sister model, the MG6, in China, according to Automotive Resources Asia.
SAIC, a General Motors Co. and Volkswagen AG partner in China, became the owner of MG Rover's Longbridge plant in Birmingham, central England, in 2007 after a merger with its much smaller peer, Nanjing Automobile Group. Nanjing acquired MG Rover in 2005 after the British automaker crashed due to financial problems.
SAIC launched its first self-developed car, the Roewe 750, based on acquired technologies, in March of that year, followed by the Roewe 550 and MG6, which are popular with young professionals.
Reuters contributed to this report