BEIJING - After churning out the same models year after year, some of China's carmakers are preparing to introduce new versions.
The new models are an early sign of China's abilities to develop cars on its own, rather than relying on blueprints handed over by foreign makers.
Beijing Jeep Corp.'s partners, Beijing Auto Works and Chrysler Corp., are negotiating details of adding a multipurpose vehicle, the BJ2022, to the company's lineup, said Beijing Jeep Chairwoman Wang Mei.
Beijing Jeep builds the Jeep Cherokee and the relatively primitive BJ2020 utility vehicle.
The BJ2022 would use key components, including platform, drivetrain and four-wheel drive, from both models, said Andy Okab, Beijing Jeep vice president.
The new model was designed by a Beijing Jeep staffer who spent a month at Chrysler's design studios in Auburn Hills, Mich.
In a more limited step designed to give the company experience in adding new models to the assembly line, Beijing Jeep will introduce a two-door long-wheelbase Cherokee in August 1998. It was designed by Chrysler and the Beijing office of Modern Engineering.
Separately, Tianjin Automotive Industrial Corp. showed a sedan version of its Daihatsu Charade-based TJ7100 at the recent Beijing motor show.
The ubiquitous TJ7100 hatchback has been popular with taxi fleets, but it has not been a strong seller to status-conscious Chinese, who typically want four doors and a trunk. The new TJ7100UA offers a trunk.