BAIC Motor Group, with subsidiaries Beijing Brand, Beijing Benz, Beijing Hyundai and Fujian Benz boosted combined 2016 sales 16.4% to 1.929m units.

Beijing Benz, the Mercedes-Benz production and sales joint venture, boosted sales 26.7% to 317,000 and claimed to be the second largest premium passenger vehicle wholesaler.

The launch of the new generation E-class long-wheelbase sedan, a model specific to China, completed renewal of the enture Beijing Benz model line.

Beijing Brand sales rose 35.6% to 457,000 units. New energy (electrified) vehicle volume rose 138.7% to 48,000 units.

Beijing Hyundai passenger car sales rose 7.5% to 1.142m units. Sales of SUV s increased 30.1% year-on-year. Fujian Benz saw sales soar 87.5% to 13,000 units in 2016.

BAIC Motor aims to be one of the top three domestic proprietary brands by 2020 while Beijing Benz is targeting first place in the domestic premium vehicle market, and Beijing Hyundai wants to enter the top four in the domestic joint venture market.

"Market demand for premium vehicles in China is expected to remain robust, and Beijing Benz will continue its focus on development," BAIC said in a statement.

Beijing Brand is taking charge of research & development for its new two-litre model while Beijing Hyundai recently announced a plan to launch nine new energy models by 2020.

The group will continue to develop proprietary brands.

BAIC said China's economy in 2016 moved to a 'new normal', with an estimated economic growth rate of nearly 6.7%, and stable economic conditions which made for a good start to the 13th Five-year Plan period. 2016 marked the beginning of supply-side structural reforms, and policies of "addressing overcapacity, reducing inventory, deleveraging, lowering costs, and bolstering areas of weaknesses" experienced initial success in increasing economic growth factors.

Markets have generally been concerned with this year's economic situation. The automotive manufacturing industry continues its growth trajectory, extending last year's upward trend. According to a Chinese Association of Automobile Manufacturers (CAAM) report last week, China's automobile sales volume in February came to 1.633m units, an increase of 18.3% over last year, while automobile shares generally recorded gains.

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