South Korea's Hyundai Motor to make heavy-duty trucks in China this year

SHANGHAI, March 13 Thu Mar 13, 2014 4:42am EDT

SHANGHAI, March 13 (Reuters) - South Korea's Hyundai Motor Co this year will start making heavy-duty trucks in China, joining rivals such as Germany's Daimler AG and Sweden's Volvo AB in competing for a share of China's huge market for big trucks.

Hyundai will build Trago cargo and dump trucks at a 160,000 vehicle-capacity plant in Sichuan province opening in the first half of the year at the earliest, the auto maker said in a statement on Thursday.

China's commercial vehicle market has been growing steadily with increased urbanization and infrastructure investment.

Sales of medium- and heavy-duty trucks last year rose 21 percent from 2012 to 770,000 vehicles, according to the China Association of Automobile Manufacturers.

Hyundai already makes passenger cars in China, and last year established a 50-50 venture with Chinese commercial vehicle maker Sichuan Nanjun Automobile Group, with whom it is building the plant in the Sichuan city of Ziyun.

Hyundai aims to become a significant commercial vehicle maker with annual sales of 400,000 units by 2020, reached by expanding line-ups and production in China, Turkey and the United States.

Rival Daimler set up a joint venture in 2012 with China's Beiqi Foton Motor Co Ltd to make Auman heavy trucks. Last year, Volvo formed a venture with the commercial vehicle unit of Dongfeng Motor Group Co Ltd. (Reporting by Samuel Shen and Norihiko Shirouzu; Additional reporting by HyunJoo Jin in SEOUL; Editing by Christopher Cushing)

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