SHANGHAI -- Shanghai Automotive Industry Corp., one of China's three largest domestic automakers, said on Wednesday it expects to produce 700,000 vehicles this year, up around 15 percent from 2002.
SAIC sold 610,000 vehicles last year, including more than 410,000 cars, revving past longstanding leader First Automotive Works, which sold 580,000 vehicles in 2002, helped by buoyant demand in the world's fastest-growing major auto market.
But SAIC aimed to make just 12 percent more cars this year than in 2002, even though analysts generally predict strong growth of between 15 percent and 30 percent in demand for sedans in 2003.
"Our aim this year is also to produce 460,000 cars," a senior company executive said.
"FAW will overtake us now that they have merged with Tianjin Automotive as they will produce 800,000 to 900,000 vehicles this year," the executive said.
Tianjin Auto, the country's fourth biggest carmaker, signed an agreement last year to sell most of its stake in listed automaker Tianjin Xiali to FAW.
SAIC expects turnover of $18.12 billion this year, the SAIC executive said. Revenue rose 22.4 percent in 2002.
SAIC plays a prominent role in the burgeoning domestic car market.
Global car giants such as General Motors and Volkswagen AG are transfixed on a China market that has ballooned in recent years alongside rising incomes, the product of years of robust economic expansion.
China's automakers -- including foreign joint ventures -- sold 3.248 million vehicles in 2002, an increase of 37.1 percent from 2001, official statistics show.
Car sales at SAIC's 50-50 joint venture with GM, Shanghai GM, surged 100 percent year-on-year to more than 100,000 units in 2002.
SAIC's joint venture with Volkswagen, Shanghai Volkswagen Automotive Co. Ltd., sold more than 300,000 cars in 2002.