MUMBAI -- SAIC Motor, China's largest automaker by sales volume, plans to set up its first car manufacturing plant in India as Chinese carmakers push into overseas markets.
The automaker will bring its MG brand to India and begin operations in 2019, it said in a statement on Wednesday.
SAIC will set up a wholly owned unit in India, to be headed by former General Motors executive Rajeev Chaba. It will announce details of its manufacturing plant and product strategy at a later stage.
SAIC's entry would make it the first Chinese carmaker to produce passenger cars in India, projected to become the third-largest vehicle market worldwide in 2020. China is encouraging its domestic companies to venture overseas and seek greater market share, as part of a broader goal to strengthen the country's auto industry.
Great Wall Motor and Guangzhou Automobile are working on selling their models in developed markets such as the U.S., while Zhejiang Geely Holding Group this month invested in Malaysia's Proton Holdings as part of its expansion into Southeast Asia.
The MG brand is undergoing a revamp under SAIC, which unveiled a sports coupe concept at the Shanghai auto show in April. The automaker is banking on the prototype to help lift the marque's profile among local and overseas consumers.
SAIC took control of MG, a historic UK brand, after merging in 2007 with Nanjing Automobile, which bought the assets of MG Rover following the collapse of the last British-owned mass-market automaker in 2005. MG cars are currently sold in the UK and China. They are built solely in China after after SAIC ended final assembly at its factory in Longbridge, England, last year. SAIC has said it will begin selling MGs in mainland Europe starting in 2019.
The Shanghai-based firm, which has joint ventures with General Motors and Volkswagen in China, has been exporting locally made Buick Envision SUVs to North America since May of last year.
SAIC, which also owns the Maxus and Roewe brands, has said it's making preparations to enter the U.S. -- the world's second-biggest auto market.