SHANGHAI -- Brilliance China Automotive Holdings Ltd., the Chinese joint venture partner of BMW AG, plans to export 2,000 of its Zhonghua sedans to Germany this year, said Shan Long, senior manager at Shenyang Brilliance Jinbei Automotive, which makes the vehicles.
Brilliance, which is also China's largest minibus maker, is eyeing exports of 6,500 cars and minibuses in 2005, Shan said Tuesday.
"We're optimistic that in the years to come our car exports to Germany and other developed countries will increase significantly, by several times," said Shan, who works in Jinbei's foreign affairs office. He said other export markets will include the Middle East and Southeast Asia.
The Zhonghua, an essentially self-developed car that has sold poorly in China, will sell for about 20,000 euros ($24,000) in Germany, he said, or about $1,000 less than the top-of-the-range model goes for in its home market.
Brilliance is expecting to sell 20,000 Zhonghuas this year, or around double last year. But sales of the sedan, produced in the northeastern city of Shenyang, fell by more than half in 2004 compared to the previous year.
The company is confident of receiving German safety certification for the Zhonghua by the end of the year, Shan said.
Brilliance joins a growing list of Chinese auto companies looking to export its way out of the woes of the domestic industry, which include sagging demand, vicious price wars and looming overcapacity.
Independent Chinese car makers Geely Automobile Holdings Ltd. and Chery Automobile Co Ltd as well as Ford Motor Co.'s China partner, Chongqing Changan Auto Co. Ltd., have all outlined export ambitions.
Car sales in China grew 15 percent last year after almost doubling in 2003, hit by government-ordered credit tightening to cool an economy in danger of overheating, which forced banks to rein in easy auto loans.
Brilliance in April posted a hefty net loss of 359 million yuan ($43.38 million) for the six months to Dec. 31, far worse than expected, blamed on price cuts and declining sales.
The results included a 300 million yuan charge for impairment of intangible assets relating to the design and development cost of the Zhonghua sedan in 2004.