The launching of a diesel-powered version of Shanghai Automotive Industry Corp.’s Roewe 550 sedan in Europe is set to take place in late 2011 or 2012, according to Gao Weimin, head of SAIC's technology center. Gao said that by the end of the year, the company will start selling a 550 gasoline car in Europe.
He spoke during an industry forum held in the north China city of Tianjin. SAIC, China's biggest automaker, is proceeding with plans to restore the British automaker it acquired more than three years ago. These cars will sell under the MG brand through MG's European dealers.
The 550 compact sedan is developed on a shortened Rover 75 platform and is powered by a 1.8-liter turbocharged gasoline engine.
During the first six months of the year, SAIC sold 54,145 Roewe 550 cars and 11,413 units of its sister model, the MG6, in China, according to a report from Automotive Resources Asia.
In 2007, SAIC, a General Motors Co. and Volkswagen AG partner in China, took ownership of MG Rover's Longbridge plant in Birmingham, central England, after a merger with Nanjing Automobile Group.
In 2005, Nanjing acquired MG Rover in 2005 after the British automaker fell apart due to financial difficulties. SAIC was able to launch its first self-developed car, the Roewe 750, based on acquired technologies, in March 2007. This was followed by the Roewe 550 and MG6, which a lot of young professionals have taken a liking to.