Chinese carmakers taking their products to the world

While much has been made of modern-day China's obsession with foreign cars, it seems carmakers in the country itself are now hoping to turn the tables on their international rivals.

Two of China's leading car firms have just announced plans to boost overseas sales of their vehicles after sales figures at home have begun to slide.

Both Geely Automobile - whose parent company Zhejiang Geely Group last year bought Volvo Car from Ford - and the Great Wall group have been hit by the combined effect of increased competition from international carmakers and the dropping of tax incentives originally introduced to strength China's car market.

Figures released by the China Association of Automobile Manufacturers claim that local automakers now hold a 40 percent share of the market there - down from 47 percent at the beginning of the year. And the latest international carmaker to enter the fray has been General Motors, which launched its Baojun model earlier this month, a car that is targeted at entry-level Chinese motorists and sells from 62,800 yuan (6,700 euros).

Overall vehicle sales in China have dropped 3.4 percent in the six months since government incentives were dropped.

Geely now has plans to move 5,000 units a month overseas while exploring new markets for its cars.

Currently Geely International's top five export markets are Russia, Ukraine, Turkey, Iraq and Chile. The company's two best-selling models overseas are the Kingkong compact sedan - which retails for 53,000 yuan (5,700 euros) - and the Panda mini-car, which goes for 38,000 yuan (4,000 euros).

Meanwhile, Great Wall - famous for its SUVs - has declared a 79 percent rise in overseas sales for those vehicles over the first half of the year.

The company is this week rolling out its H6 Hover SUV - one of four new models to be launched in 2011.

The Hover is currently the most popular SUV on the Chinese market, beating off the likes of Volkswagen's Tiguan and Honda's CRV.

Despite the drop in sales of vehicles in China, the country still remains the world's largest auto market with sales last year topping the 18 million unit mark.

MS

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