China’s SAIC Keen to Sell Cars in U.S., NHTSA’s Strickland Says

SAIC Motor Corp., China’s largest domestic carmaker, is among “a number” of Chinese companies keen to sell their models in the U.S., the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration said.

NHTSA’s administrator David Strickland came to China this week to meet and explain the U.S. agency’s safety standards to the automakers, he said in Shanghai yesterday. SAIC’s car production plant is just one of the visits he planned during the trip, Washington-based Strickland said.

China carmakers such as SAIC, Geely Automobile Holdings Ltd. (175) and Great Wall Motor Co. are looking to exports as growth in their home market slows. Deliveries in China this year may miss initial growth forecasts of between 10 to 15 percent, the China Association of Automobile Manufacturers said this month, as the government eliminated incentives that boosted buying in the world’s largest auto market. Chinese domestic brands are projected to match international brands in quality between 2015 and 2018, industry analyst J.D. Power Asia Pacific said.

“When they offer their vehicle for sale, we will treat them like we will treat any company whether it is a Detroit company or a Japanese company or a Chinese company,” Strickland said in an interview. He declined to name the other automakers.

Shanghai-based SAIC has no plans at the moment to sell cars in the U.S. and is currently concentrating on its overseas businesses in the U.K. and India, Judy Zhu, the company’s spokeswoman, said today.

“In the future, when we have more suitable products, we may consider more overseas markets,” Zhu said.

SAIC, which sells the MG Rover-derived Roewe 550 model in China, markets Britain’s MG sports-car brand in the U.K. The carmaker will also start selling vehicles in India this year with partner General Motors Co. SAIC aims to sell 800,000 vehicles outside China annually by 2015, the company said on April 19.

About 97 percent of the vehicles made in China last year stayed in the country, according to CAAM figures calculated by Bloomberg News. China’s Trade Ministry aims to boost exports by up to 20 percent a year between 2012 and 2015.

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Kae Inoue at kinoue@bloomberg.net

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