Chinese auto giant plans first European factory amid soaring sales

BEIJING/LONDON: China’s largest car manufacturer, SAIC Motor, has announced plans to build its first factory in Europe, following a significant surge in the sales of its vehicles on the continent. 

The state-controlled company, which owns the iconic MG brand, stated that the new plant would produce electric vehicles.

The decision to establish a European factory comes seven years after SAIC halted MG assembly at the Longbridge plant in Birmingham. MG, a brand with roots dating back over a century, was manufactured in the UK until production was moved to China in 2016. 

A spokesperson for SAIC revealed that the firm is still in the process of securing a site in Europe and finalising other details about the project. The company has not yet decided whether MG models would be produced at the new site. “We have many brands including MG, IM and Maxus. We are still deciding which will be built at the factory,” the spokesperson added.

SAIC’s overseas vehicle sales surged by 40% in the first three months of the year, with the MG brand accounting for the majority of these sales. The number of cars sold in Europe more than doubled in the same period.

The move to establish a European factory comes as Chinese carmakers, including SAIC, Geely and Great Wall, have seen their market shares grow in recent years. 

In addition to its manufacturing plants in China, SAIC also has production facilities in Thailand, Indonesia, India and Pakistan. The Chinese firm, which has joint ventures with German motor giant Volkswagen and US car maker General Motors, sold 5.3 million vehicles globally last year. 

The decision to build a factory in Europe marks a significant step in SAIC’s expansion strategy and reflects the growing global demand for electric vehicles.

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