Chinese Still Heavily Favor Foreign Cars, SAIC Chief Says

Chinese consumers will buy foreign-branded autos over a local make in more than three out of five cases, even if Chinese cars are made with the same quality and cost less, according to the country’s largest carmaker.

“It’s hard to change consumer perception,” Chen Hong, chairman of SAIC Motor Corp., said in Shanghai on Thursday. “I accept the criticism from shareholders and ask for more understanding.”

SAIC Motor, which has joint ventures with General Motors Co. and Volkswagen AG, reported declining sales in four out of the first five months this year, dragged down by slumping demand for Buicks and Chevrolets. The Shanghai-based carmaker’s own marques, MG and Roewe, fared even worse, plunging 34 percent.

The company missed out on the boom in demand for entry-level sport-utility vehicles and minivans and is working to catch up, Chen said at the company’s annual shareholders meeting. Despite the recent slump in demand, SAIC’s joint venture partnership has been successful, he said.

SAIC’s shares have risen 9.8 percent this year, trailing the 48 percent gain in the benchmark Shanghai Composite Index.

— With assistance by Alexandra Ho

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