SHANGHAI — Shanghai Automotive Industry Corp. expects to start mass producing its first hybrid before the end of 2010, sources say.
The car will be refitted from SAIC's Roewe 750, says an SAIC source.
The 750 is a mid-sized sedan based on the Rover 75 platform SAIC purchased in early 2005 from the England-based MG Rover Group.
The car will be a mild hybrid, which uses an electric motor to assist propulsion. The motor cannot power the car alone.
The hybrid, fitted with a lithium ion battery, burns 20 percent less fuel than the standard Roewe 750, says the SAIC source.
Johnson Controls Inc. will supply the lithium ion battery, and the British engine-technology company Ricardo PLC is working on the revised powertrain, say industry sources.
SAIC also plans to launch an electric car after the hybrid, but no time frame is available.
In November, SAIC set up a subsidiary in Shanghai to develop alternative-fuel cars.
With an investment of 2 billion yuan ($292 million), the new subsidiary will develop powertrain and control systems for SAIC's hybrid and electric cars, according to a statement issued by SAIC.
In 2005, SAIC partnered with the automotive engineering school of Tongji University in Shanghai to develop new-energy vehicles, including fuel cell cars.
But Duan Chengwu, a technical research analyst at Global Insight in Shanghai, says SAIC's recent moves indicate the state-owned automaker has shelved development of fuel cell vehicles.