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BAIC sets goal to move to top automotive group in China

SHANGHAI – Beijing Automotive Industry (Holding) Corp. (BAIC), one of the largest regional automotive groups in China, showed up as a group exhibitor for the first time at Auto Shanghai 2009 and displayed a total of 14 production and concept vehicles from its subsidiaries. Company chairman Xu Heyi announced BAIC’s goal of building it into a large automotive group with revenue of ¥100 billion ($14.7 million) to become one of the top 500 enterprises in the world.

BAIC’s joint venture subsidiary Beijing Benz-DaimlerChryler (BBDC) displayed two locally produced Mercedes-Benz models, the C200K and C280. In the first quarter of the year, BBDC sold 2,675 units of the C-Class cars, up 494.4 percent year-on-year, according to a company news release.

BAIC’s another joint venture company Beijing-Hyundai showcased five passenger vehicles to the public at the Hall E2.

The Elantra Yuedong on display was launched to the market in the spring of 2008 and has become one of the best-selling cars from joint venture automakers in China. In April, the company sold 22,890 units of the model, ranking top 2, for the first time, in passenger vehicle sales in the country.

The Sonata Lingxiang, a B-Class sedan, is the sixth generation of the Sonata. Last December, the 2.0L and 2.4L models were officially introduced in Beijing with a price range of ¥155,800-¥228,800 ($22,900-$33,600) for the six variants.

The BT01 unveiled in a turntable is the first vehicle independently developed by the technical center of Beijing-Hyundai for the Chinese market. Based on the Sonata, the new sedan combines Korean automaker’s technology with elements of the Chinese culture.

The i30 hatchback from Hyundai is another new model which made its China debut at the Shanghai auto show. The 1.6L car is blueprinted by Hyundai’s design center in Germany and has been launched to the European market, according company sources. The i30 will be introduced to China soon to compete with rival models in mid-level hatchback segment.

For independent brands, Beiqi-Foton and Beijing Automobile Works under BAIC showcased their MPV and SUV models, such as the MP-X and the Cavalier, while BAIC’s R&D center, Beijing Automobile Research Institute, unveiled its two independently developed SUV concept models, the B60 and the 863 hybrid.

As revealed by Xu at the press conference, BAIC will enhance its development on two independent-branded cars, two SUVs and two hybrid in an effort to officially launch these six models to the market in 2010.

In the first three months of the year, BAIC produced and sold 252,527 and 250,526 units of vehicles up 15.2 and 17.4 percent year-on-year, according to company statistics. Its passenger vehicles sales reached 119,890 units in the first quarter, up 46.7 percent from last year.

BAIC is implementing a new corporation development strategy to increase its competitive strength and speed up its globalization process. “We will do our best to make automotive business in Beijing a pillar industry of the capital city and turn BAIC into a leading enterprise group with revenue of ¥100 billion in Beijing, moving up to the first automotive group in the country in the 12th Five-Year Plan period (2011-2015),” said Xu at the press conference.

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