FAW Group says it will increase research and development (R&D) spending by 61% this year despite the financial crisis.

Group President Xu Jianyi said R&D spending would total CNY4.23bn as FAW used the crisis "as an opportunity for structural adjustment and innovation."

Xinhua reported that FAW will focus on energy-saving and environment-friendly products this year, as well as vehicles for China's vast rural area.

The automaker said it sold more than 1.53 million motor vehicles last year, up 6.75% on the previous year.

The Xinhua report added that China Premier Wen Jiabao has urged Chinese companies to stress innovation to combat the impact of global economic turmoil.