FRANKFURT - German truck maker MAN said on Monday it was in exploratory talks with potential local partners about entering China, viewed by experts as the world's fastest growing commercial vehicle market.
A spokesman for MAN confirmed comments to Financial Times Deutschland newspaper that the company was in talks with possible partners, but declined to give their identities. He said MAN was seeking to clinch a deal within a year or two.
"Europe is still our core region. But we must look at the strategic possibilities in China," Hakan Samuelsson, head of MAN's trucks unit told the FT Deutscheland. "We have realistic opportunities in the upmarket segment in heavy trucks."
MAN, which has until now focused on northern Europe, is the latest European truckmaker to seek a partner in Asia, which accounts for nearly half of all global commercial vehicle sales. Most companies believe having a local partner is the easiest way to gain a foothold.
Last year, Sweden's Scania agreed to cooperate on specific projects with Hino Motors Ltd., the truck arm of Toyota.
The world's biggest truckmaker DaimlerChrysler also has taken stakes in the Fuso trucks arm of its Japanese partner Mitsubishi Motors Corp. and in the spun-off trucks unit of Hyundai Motor Co.
Sources close to DaimlerChrysler said in January that plans for a joint venture to produce heavy-duty vehicles in China with the country's biggest truckmaker, FAW, had failed.
It is unclear whether MAN is talking to FAW, which many European analysts say is the most desirable partner in China.
MAN has said its trucks unit, which accounts for about 40 percent of group sales, will break even in 2002 as it benefits from cost-cuts.