TURIN - Although Anhui Jianghuai Automobile Co. (JAC) has opened a styling center here, the Chinese auto group will not start exporting its models to Europe anytime soon.
"Our first priority is to satisfy our domestic market. By 2008, we will begin exporting our passenger cars to other Asian markets and the Middle East," JAC Chairman Zuo Yan'an said in an interview.
He declined to say when JAC's cars will be sold in Europe.
He was speaking at the opening of JAC's Italian research and engineering center last month.
The center will style two passenger cars for JAC: an Audi A4-sized sedan and a small hatchback about the size of the VW Polo class. Both cars are due in 2007.
Currently JAC builds trucks, buses, minivans and components. The carmaker's first passenger car will be a premium sedan styled in China. The car, which is due in September 2006, will be about the size of the Audi A6.
Unlike most Chinese automakers, JAC is not basing its passenger cars on foreign carmakers' architectures. The company is developing three new platforms with international engineering firms and will keep intellectual property rights to the technology.
AVL of Austria has helped JAC develop a 2.8-liter diesel engine and a 2.4-liter gasoline engine. From the gasoline engine, JAC and AVL will derive a 2.0-liter normally aspirated powerplant and a 2.2-liter turbocharged engine.
JAC is negotiating with a Chinese automaker to buy a gasoline engine for its small car.
JAC, which is based in Hefei in eastern China, is building a new passenger-car plant in Hefei wit an annual capacity of 150,000 units.
The plant opens in September 2006. JAC will export 20 percent of the plant's production.