China’s Chery Forecasts 40 Percent Rise In Exports

BEIJING (AP) - China's biggest domestic automaker, Chery Automobile Co., said Friday it expects its foreign sales to rise by 40 percent this year to 70,000 vehicles as the company tries to establish itself in the global car market.

Chery is targeting developing countries but wants to start exporting to the United States, Europe and other developed markets, said Qin Lihong, a vice president of its sales arm.

''Right now, we have that vision, but there is no concrete plan,'' Qin said.

Chery Chairman Yin Tongyao unveiled two new sedans meant for export and other vehicles at a ceremony ahead of the Shanghai Auto Show, which opens Sunday. Yin said the U.S. market was ''attractive'' but did not say when Chery might try to start selling there.

Chery, based in the eastern Chinese city of Wuhu, is the biggest of a group of up-and-coming Chinese automakers that are trying to expand into overseas markets. Others include Gel Automobile Group Ltd. and Shanghai Automotive Industries Ltd.

China's automakers exported some 325,000 vehicles last year, about 80 percent of them low-priced trucks and buses bound for developing markets in Asia, Africa and Latin America, the government says.

Many are eager to break into the U.S. market, the world's largest, but industry analysts say they will have trouble meeting American safety and environmental standards.

Some have improved their skills by forming partnerships with U.S., European or Japanese automakers.

Chery and DaimlerChrysler AG announced an agreement last year for the Chinese company to manufacture small vehicles for sale worldwide under the Chrysler, Dodge or Jeep brand names.

Chery's lineup under its own brand name ranges from the two-door A1 roadster to the Tiggo SUV.

The small A3 sedan and midsize A6 unveiled Friday are due to go on sale this year, the company said.

This year's sales target is 390,000 vehicles, with 70,000 exported, Qin said. But he said some Chery managers are forecasting sales of up to 500,000 vehicles, with as many as 100,000 exported.

Half of Chery's exports last year went to Russia and other parts of the former Soviet Union, with Russian sales rising 600 percent to about 6,000 vehicles, Qin said. Southeast Asia, Iran and other Middle Eastern countries also are key markets.

Chery was displaying a hybrid gasoline-electric version of its A5 sedan that Qin said would be ready for sale in two to three years.

The company also was showing an electric car powered by a hydrogen fuel cell and others that can run on natural gas, ethanol, bio-diesel and other alternative fuels, but Qin said there were no immediate plans to market them.

Cleaner vehicles are a key theme at the Shanghai show, where many of the international and Chinese automakers are showing electric and other alternative cars.

Referring to Chery's fuel cell sedan, Qin said, ''We are showing this car to say to everybody, Chery cares about the environment.''

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