BEIJING -- Changan Automotive has started pilot production of its Italian-designed CM8 small minivan.
The CM8 is the first vehicle designed and developed for production by I.DE.A. Institute, based in Moncalieri, Turin, Italy. It is the sixth vehicle for the Chinese market designed in Turin.
The CM8 is based on a heavily modified Suzuki Wagon R platform, lengthened to seat seven passengers.
Changan plans to make up to 80,000 units a year of the CM8. Delivery to customers will begin in August.
The CM8 has been designed to comply with European homologation standards, but there are currently no plans to export it to Europe.
The car made its debut in June at the Beijing auto show.
The CM8 will be produced at Changan's new factory in Chongqing. In 2003, Changan's joint venture with Suzuki made 102,083 passenger cars. Changan also produced 18,535 units last year with Ford Motor Co.
I.DE.A. is developing five other projects for Chinese carmakers and will open an engineering center in Shanghai within the next 12 months.
I.DE.A.'s other projects in China include developing two more vehicles for Changan; a four-door medium-sized sedan for FAW Hainan Automotive and a project for the Pan Asia Technical Automotive Center, a joint venture of General Motors China and Shanghai Automotive Industry Corp.