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Shanghai Automotive Industry Corporation (SAIC) – Giant Chinese Carmaker to Stir Up Excitement

By • May 30th, 2009 • Category: Clean Car Talk Posts

SAIC Group logoEditor’s note: This is part of a series of articles peeking into clean car industries and car manufacturers of China, India, South Korea and Germany. Please send comments and suggestions using our Contact page or by leaving a comment at the end of this article.

Shanghai Automotive Industry Corporation, or SAIC Motor, is China’s largest car manufacturer. The automotive firm is actually a government-owned company and operates from 50 different plants scattered all over Shanghai. SAIC has a very wide product range, providing passenger cars, commercial cars, tractors, trucks, buses, motorcycles, and auto parts. These products are marketed by different brands such as Shanghai-Sunwin Bus Corporation, Shanghai-Huizhong Automotive Manufacturing, Shanghai-Xingfu Motorcycle, among others. The company also controls a number of brands more familiar to Western consumers, including the some General Motors and VW brands, Rover (now called Roewe) and MG brands.

Between 2001 and 2004, SAIC Motor briefly owned 20% of Chery Automobile, another big car manufacturer in China. Additionally it owns 51% of the South Korean SsangYong Motor Company. Furthermore, SAIC Motor has the brand MG Rover under its wing as well when it acquired Nanjing Automobile Corporation. Rover is now called Roewe, and the company currently produces the new MG 7, MG 3SW and the MG TF.

SAIC Motor brands
SAIC Motor Brands. Courtesy SAIC Motor.

SAIC Motor also nurtures two business partnerships with General Motors. One is the Shanghai General Motors Co., Ltd. or Shanghai GM (SGM), and the other is a joint venture with GM and Liuzhou Wuling Motors Co., Ltd. called SAIC GM Wuling Automobile Co., Ltd. or SGMW.

SGM has 3 major manufacturing plants, 4 vehicle production factories and 2 power train companies. It manufactures and markets the Chevrolet, Buick, and Cadillac vehicles. SGMW specializes in the mini and small car segment of China now, and possibly globally in the future.

Additionally SAIC collaborates with Volkswagen as the Shanghai Volkswagen Automotive Co., Ltd., which makes the VW Santana for China consumers.

Recently, the Chinese government has been promoting the development of fuel-efficient, environment-friendly cars. Part of the agenda is to provide tax benefits to consumers who purchase what are now called “clean cars” and public taxi fleets are also given subsidies to acquire the new environment-friendly car models. As a government-owned company, SAIC Motor was one of the first to respond to the call. The company has announced that it is set to launch its first hybrid car in 2010 to be marketed under the SAIC brand and not under any of SAIC’s foreign ventures. The Roewe 750 hybrid sedan.

Hybrid and Plug-In Hybrid Sedans

Roewe 750 mild hybrid sedan
SAIC Roewe 750 Hybrid Sedan. Courtesy

The Roewe 750 hybrid sedan plans to use U.S.-sourced parts, particularly from A123 Systems, a battery maker in Massachusetts, and from Delphi Corp., an auto parts maker in Michigan. It is based on the Rover 75 model with what look slike minor bodywork changes.

The hybrid alternative-fuel propulsion technology vehicle is currently termed as a mild hybrid car because it still sources power from the gasoline engine but has an electric motor with iron-phosphate-based lithium-ion batteries that offers only assistance, following in the footsteps of the Honda Civic hybrid and the Toyota Prius. This configuration is expected to cut fuel consumption by 20% when compared to the Rover 75, according to estimates by the company.

SAIC Roewe 550 plug-in sedan
SAIC Roewe 550 Plug-In Sedan. Courtesy

Also in the work is SAIC Motor’s first plug-in hybrid mid-class sedan called the Roewe 550 for 2012 market release. The car is expected to save up to 50% fuel consumption and will be priced between 142,800-189,800 RMB (US$ 20,900-27,800) depending on models and options, according

More hybrid models are planned for 2011-2012 mass release. The next three years are filled with plans for these clean cars, though overseas release has not yet been announced. As of press time, SAIC expressed that it has no overseas plans yet and plans to focus its efforts mostly on the expansion of the domestic Chinese market, despite the reported use of U.S. technologies in its clean car development projects.

All this excitement is made possible by a new R&D arm the company recently created. SAIC Motor launched a power train joint venture in early 2009 called Shanghai Jieneng Automotive Technology for the development of hybrid and electric power trains. The new car technologies to be developed here will aim to design, build and integrate lithium-ion batteries, and to reduce fuel consumption by 20% in their future cars. The new venture has SAIC Group owning 90% and SAIC Motor the other 10%, with eventual investment to reach 2 billion yuan or US$ 293 million.

With an agreement signed with the government of Shanghai to supply about 1,000 clean, alternative energy cars for the 2010 Shanghai World Expo, the vast China market is ready for SAIC’s new, clean and environmentally friendly cars. It will be only a matter of time before this giant Chinese carmaker take its products across the world.

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is a marketing communications consultant working in the San Diego area. Cuong is dedicated to helping individuals and companies maximize their presence on the Internet and efficiently take products and services to market through SEO and network marketing. Cuong also maintains a blog on Marketing at You can also find Cuong Huynh's profile on LinkedIn. For fun he maintains a blog on Vietnamese pho, soccer and do storyboards for movie and film projects. Follow Cuong on Twitter @CuongHuynh, @LovingPho, @CleanCarTalk, @BlockbusterFilm, @SoccerUSA.
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