SAIC Set to Be First Chinese Automaker to Manufacture in India

  • Shanghai-based automaker to introduce MG brand to India
  • China is encouraging its automakers to venture overseas

SAIC Motor Corp., 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 Shanghai-based state-owned automaker will bring its MG brand to the South Asian country and begin operations in 2019, it said in a statement on Wednesday. The automaker will set up a wholly owned unit in India, to be headed by former General Motors Co. executive Rajeev Chaba, and 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 Co. and Guangzhou Automobile Group Co. are working on selling their models in developed markets such as the U.S., while Zhejiang Geely Holding Group Co. 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 Motor, 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.

The Shanghai-based firm, which has joint ventures with General Motors Co. and Volkswagen AG in China, has been exporting locally made Buick Envision sport utility vehicles 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 -- on its own.

A representative for SAIC Motor couldn’t be immediately reached for comment.

— With assistance by Ying Tian, and Yan Zhang

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