Beijing Auto plans own brand by 2010
By Yu Qiao (China Daily)
Updated: 2009-11-02 08:42

Beijing Automotive Industry Holding Corp (BAIC), the No 5 Chinese motor group, is pushing ahead with plans to start its own passenger car brand despite the arrest of its employee Yu Xiangdong, who was indicted in the US last month and charged with stealing trade secrets from Ford Motor Co.

A source from BAIC familiar with the case said the company's plans are not affected because Yu, who joined its research institute last November, was only engaged in "some basic research activities" and not involved in the automaker's development of its own-brand cars.

The partner of Daimler AG and Hyundai Motor Co, BAIC will unveil several of its own passenger car models at the Beijing motor show next April, the source said, and plans to begin commercial production later in 2010.

BAIC will revive its own brand named Beijing for the models, which will include medium and high-end sedans, SUVs and hybrid vehicles, according to the source.

The Beijing badge was created in 1958 but graced only a handful of cars due to limited production.

Beijing Automobile Works later went on to help form Beijing Jeep Corp in 1983, the nation's first Sino-foreign joint vehicle venture.

The State-owned auto group recently agreed to help fund supercar maker Koenigsegg AB's purchase of Saab from General Motors.

It now plans to build up an annual production of capacity of 100,000 passenger cars under the Beijing brand.

US authorities detained 47-year-old Yu, a Ford product engineer from 1997 to early 2007, on charges that he attempted to sell Ford trade secrets after stealing documents to use in finding work with Chinese automakers.

He began a new job in late 2006 with Foxconn and PCE Industry Inc, according to the indictment. A year later, he tried to use information he took from Ford to get a job at SAIC Motor Corp, a Chinese partner of GM and Volkswagen, but failed, the indictment said.

Yu is accused of copying Ford designs for its engine and gearbox mounting subsystem, front and rear side door structure, steering wheel assembly, instrument panel and console system.

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After BAIC's moves to buy well-known foreign brands Chrysler and Opel this year failed, pressure is increasing on BAIC to develop its own car brand to keep pace in the intense race with other Chinese automakers to become a top-tier carmaker .

The group expects to sell 2 million vehicles produced by its joint ventures a year by 2011, up from 780,000 units last year. It projects sales revenue will grow from 75 billion yuan ($10.98 billion) to 200 billion yuan over the same period.

In the first three quarters of this year, BAIC's sales jumped by more than 50 percent year-on-year to 847,000 vehicles, according to market data.

The figure is less than half of top Chinese automaker SAIC's 1.85 million units.

BAIC makes the Mercedes-Benz E-Class and C-Class cars at a joint venture with Daimler AG. It also produces a phalanx of Hyundai models at another tie-up with the South Korea's biggest carmaker.

BAIC also has its own-brand truck business.


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