SAIC Motor Corp, the partner of General Motors (GM) and Volkswagen in China, yesterday unveiled the brand for its planned self-developed cars.
The top Chinese automotive group said in a statement that its own cars will be called "Roewe" with a logo of two golden standing lions framed by a red-and-black shield.
The company expects the launch of the brand to help its own cars create an image of "prestige, dignity and sagacity" and launch them into the medium- and high-end market.
The move came after the group abandoned two own brands Phoenix and Shanghai in 1993.
It formed a joint venture with Volkswagen in 1985 and another with GM in 1997. The two ventures are assembling cars under the two global giants' brands.
"It is our mission to create internationally competitive brands. The launch of the new brand is an important step in our international strategy," SAIC Motor President Chen Hong said in the statement.
In April this year, the group announced that it plans to spend more than 10 billion yuan (US$1.26 billion) developing 30 own-brand models by 2010 through its wholly controlled unit, SAIC Motor Manufacturing Co Ltd.
It aims to sell 200,000 own-brand cars annually by the end of the decade.
The group said yesterday that it will unveil its first Roewe-branded car on October 24, developed on the basis of the Rover 75 technology it acquired from failed British carmaker MG Rover.
The model will go on sale in the domestic market at the end of 2006.
In 2004, the group bought the intellectual property rights of the Rover 75 and 25 sedans from MG Rover for 67 million pounds (US$117 million).
SAIC Motor Corp sold a total of more than 1.05 million cars and other types of vehicles last year, including those from its South Korean affiliate Ssangyong Motors.
The group's own-brand endeavor is also a response to industry regulators' strong call to foster home-grown car brands and alter the scenario that the fast-growing car market in China is mainly controlled by foreign nameplates.
Many other Chinese carmakers are beefing up efforts to promote their own brands.
Geely, the independent low-cost car producer from East China's Zhejiang Province, aims to boost annual sales to 2 million units at home and abroad by 2015, from 150,000 units last year.
Chery, another independent carmaker in Anhui Province, expects to sell 1 million cars a year by 2010, up from 180,000 units last year.
First Automotive Works Corp, the partner of Volkswagen and Toyota, plans to invest a total of 5 billion yuan (US$633 million) to develop new cars under its own brands over the next four to five years.
Demand for passenger cars in China is predicted to exceed 4 million units this year, up from 3.2 million in 2005.
(China Daily October 13, 2006)