November 7, 2012 / 5:55 PM / in 5 years

SAIC: No plans to build, sell its cars in N. America soon

ANN ARBOR, Mich, Nov 7 (Reuters) - Chinese automaker SAIC Motor Corp, which opened a U.S. office in suburban Detroit this summer, has no plans to build or sell its own cars in North America in the next several years, the company’s top U.S. executive said on Wednesday.

“It’s really clear, in (the) short term - several years - (there is) no plan for car business in North America for SAIC,” Yi Lu, head of SAIC USA, said at an industry conference at the University of Michigan when asked whether the company had plans for to build or sell its own cars in the region.

But in his first public comments since SAIC opened an office in Birmingham, Michigan, in June, Yi also said SAIC wants to build its presence and reputation with other companies in the U.S. auto industry.

China’s largest automaker has joint ventures in China with market share leaders, General Motors Co and Volkswagen AG . Yi, 39, previously headed Cadillac in China for the Shanghai GM joint venture.

In 2005, the state-owned SAIC purchased technology from the now-defunct MG Rover Group Ltd and has since developed a lineup of cars sold in China under brand names Roewe and MG.

As part of that deal, it owns and runs MG Rover’s 10,000-unit Longbridge plant in Birmingham, central England.

The plant resumed producing MG 6 sedans in May 2011, targeting Britain initially but with an aim to sell MGs in the rest of Europe eventually.

Earlier in the year, SAIC rolled out its MG5 and Roewe 950 models.

In June, SAIC opened a 30,000-square-foot office in Birmingham, Michigan, that will eventually employ 100 people and focus on three areas - purchasing, logistics, and technology and engineering. The location currently employs 50 people.

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