* Delays factories expected in 2016/2018
* Adds 400,000 capacity by 2020
* Investing $5.4 bln in own brand cars
By Jake Spring and Meng Meng
BEIJING, Oct 14 (Reuters) - China’s Guangzhou Automobile Group Co will delay increasing production capacity for its own brand cars to possibly as late as 2020, a spokeswoman said on Wednesday, as the world’s largest auto market stagnates amid slowing economic growth.
General Manager Wu Song at Guangzhou Auto’s own-brand subsidiary GAC Motor had told Reuters in April that it was planning to build two factories with an annual capacity of 200,000 vehicles each by 2016 and 2018.
A GAC Motor spokeswoman, however, said the company was now expected to instead expand annual capacity by 400,000 units by 2020 as part of a 34 billion yuan ($5.4 billion) investment announced by Wu in Beijing on Tuesday and which also includes further R&D for the automaker’s Trumpchi line.
The spokeswoman said the delay was aimed at matching capacity with sales volumes. She declined to be named according to company policy.
GAC Motor joins other automakers including Volkswagen AG and General Motors that have already started to trim local production in a weak market. Analysts say overcapacity is worse among domestic automakers than their foreign rivals.
Overall auto sales in China grew a meagre 0.3 percent year-on-year from January to September in an economy that is growing at its slowest pace in around 25 years.
The spokeswoman said GAC maintained its annual sales targets of 160,000 vehicles in 2015 and 500,000 vehicles in 2017, adding that a planned expansion of its existing factory in Guangzhou to 350,000 vehicles by next year is still on track.
GAC Motor’s parent Guangzhou Auto Group is China’s sixth largest automaker. In addition to its own brand, the company makes cars through joint ventures for Toyota Motor Corp , Honda Motor Co among others.
$1 = 6.3449 Chinese yuan renminbi Additional reporting by Norihiko Shirouzu; Editing by Kazunori Takada and Miral Fahmy