Brilliance to set up factory in Russia

Automotive

Brilliance China Auto, partner of German luxury carmaker BMW, said it will assemble its own-brand cars in Russia with a local partner, in the freshest move to expand overseas sales.

An official from the Hong Kong-listed carmaker said it plans to export $1.18-billion kits to produce 107,589 units of the 1.6- and 1.8-liter Junjie compact sedan at an existing facility of Russian industrial group IRITO over the next five years. Production will begin in January 2008 with a planned volume of 10,000 units that year, it said. The Russian plant is Brilliance’s fourth overseas manufacturing site following three in Egypt, Vietnam and the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea, it said. The company said it aims to sell more than one-third of its total vehicles abroad a year by 2010, up from 3.1% last year. It expects to boost its annual sales to 500,000 vehicles from 210,000 units. In the first three quarters of this year, Brilliance’s overseas sales surged by 85% to 12,163 units from a year ago, it said.

Russia is a new target of Chinese carmakers as vehicle demand in that country has been growing rapidly thanks to its economic recovery in recent years. Other Chinese brands, such as Chery Automobile and Great Wall Motor, are also planning factories in Russia. New vehicle sales in Russia rose by 23% to 1.78 million units last year from 2005. The market is mainly controlled by global auto giants, including Ford, General Motors, Toyota and Hyundai.

IRITO is the biggest agent for Chinese-brand cars in Russia by sales volume. It also sells other Chinese nameplates, such as Great Wall, BYD and Hafei. In another development, Brilliance said it is testing the Zunchi mid-range sedan according to the safety and exhaust emission standards in the United States in preparation to foray into the world’s largest and most competitive vehicle market. Sources from the company told China Daily that it would ship the Zunchi sedans to the US as early as December. Its US dealers have built more than 200 stores for the model.

Brilliance is making BMW 3 and 5 Series sedans at a joint venture in northeastern Chinese city of Shenyang, its home base. It is also producing own-brand mini buses and light-duty trucks in Shenyang. (people.com.cn)

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