The Chinese mainland's pioneering private carmaker Geely has unveiled plans for a fivefold increase in its production by 2007.
Speaking as the firm's 210,000th car rolled off the production line in Taizhou, Zhejiang Province, Geely President Xu Gang said it hoped to lift its accumulated output to 1 million cars within the next three years.
Geely, the parent firm of Hong Kong-listed Geely Auto Holding, is a relative newcomer to the highly competitive sector, having started auto production in 1998.
Xu added confidently: "We are performing much better than before as a result of growing market demand and improvements in both the quality and style of our products."
Geely, which is owned by Chinese tycoon Li Shufu, sold more than 40,000 cars during the first four months of this year.
It plans to more than double last year's total output of 80,000 units, aiming for 165,000 cars this year.
"We will introduce a slew of new own-brand products, including recreational vehicles and sport utility vehicles, in cooperation with foreign automobile design companies," Xu said.
He added that Geely will launch a new model, CK-1, designed by South Korea's Daewoo International Kaisha, in the second half of this year.
The company has also signed co-operation deals with Germany's Luc Co and the Italian Car Projects Group.
Geely now produces the low-emission Haoqing, Merrie, Ulion and Meirenbao - China's first domestically made sports car - and the Maple.
"Own development has not been easy and Geely is still much weaker than foreign and domestic big names, but we will not give up," pledged Geely Chairman Li Shufu.
Foreign auto giants, such as Volkswagen, General Motors, Honda, PSA Peugeot Citroen, Toyota, Nissan and BMW currently control 90 percent of China's passenger car market.
Most Chinese automakers, including the nation's top three - First Automotive Works Corp, Shanghai Automotive Industry Corp and the Dongfeng Motor Corp - have established joint ventures with these firms to assemble foreign brands.
Geely will continue to use its own brands and will not assemble foreign cars, Li said.
The company has four manufacturing bases in Zhejiang and Shanghai with an originally planned total annual capacity of 650,000 cars by 2007.
(China Daily May 25, 2004)