The Maxus Datong, SAIC's first self-developed commercial vehicle, will be sold in the domestic market and exported abroad.
Largest automaker enters commercial vehicle sector
SHANGHAI - Using its existing technologies and production capacity, China's largest automaker SAIC Motor has ambitious plans for its recently launched commercial vehicle division to become a strong player in both domestic and international markets.
The first self-developed international commercial vehicle from SAIC, the Maxus Datong light van, will debut in April at Auto Shanghai 2011, the nation's biggest industry show of the year.
The first mass-produced Maxus Datong vans are expected go on sale globally in the last half of this year.
"Since the founding of our commercial vehicle team in October 2009, we've sought to develop international-branded vehicles with our own core technology and high quality to meet the growing needs of customers," Lan Qingsong, deputy general manager of the SAIC commercial vehicle division, told China Daily.
"With leading-edge technology from Europe coupled with our mature market experience both in China and abroad, I believe our products will have a strong competitiveness globally," said Lan.
The latest five-year plan by SAIC Motor envisions that its commercial division will be on par with its passenger vehicle sector, largely due to its acquisition of Nanjing Automobile in 2007.
"Nanjing Automobile over a long time accumulated strong production and technology capacity in commercial vehicles, especially in key components, laying a solid foundation for SAIC's commercial vehicles," he said.
Lan acknowledged there is fierce domestic price competition in the segment, but said "Chinese-made commercial vehicles have yet to take off", leaving ample opportunity for high-quality models.
"The light-duty vehicle we produce has stronger technological requirements that can be translated into higher profit margins, an important reason why we are entering the sector," he said.
He added that a second assembly plant for commercial vehicles meeting Euro V emission standards has been approved by the company and a third is "being studied".
"Our studies show that any automaker's commercial vehicle business enters a golden time 10 years later than its passenger car business," he noted.
"We expect the pace will be shorter in China, taking into consideration of the nation's robust urban development," Lan said.
He estimates that 30 percent of Maxus Datong vans will be exported, with the rest sold within China.
"In the long-run, the ratio will reach 50-50," he said.