Chery has become the first Chinese automaker to build 1m cars.

The four-door hatchback came off the assembly line on Wednesday (22 August) as Chery, having newly agreed production joint ventures with Fiat and Iran's largest automaker, Khodro, said it would ouble the number of its offshore plants in three years, Forbes magazine reported on its website.

The millionth car was an A3 model, launched at the Beijing motor show last year. Forbes said the Anhui province -based automaker, which has been gearing up to compete against foreign joint ventures, took only 17 months to complete the production of its second 0.5m cars after its first half million needed six years.

Chery can now build 400,000 units a year and has seven overseas plants in Iran, Russia, Ukraine, Indonesia, Egypt and Uruguay as well as its Anhui base, the report added.

Chery said it planned to double its foreign factory count to 14 by 2010 wile Argentina and India are two of location options under consideration to escape foreign tariff barriers, Forbes said, citing the China Daily.

Forbes noted that Chery has teamed up recently with several foreign car makers to expand overseas and last week announced an agreement with Khodro and the Canadian investment firm Solitac to open a factory with maximum annual capacity of 200,000 in northern Iran.

Earlier this month, Chery agreed a deal with Fiat to form a 50-50 joint venture to produce Chery, Fiat and Alfa Romeo-brand cars, with annual capacity of 175,000 units, for both domestic and overseas markets.

Chery is also set to build small Chrysler-badged models for the newly independent Detroit-based automaker. Forbes said these would be on sale in about two years at or around half the current price of Chrysler's cheapest model.

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