Shanghai Automotive Industry Corp., China’s largest car maker and the main local partner of General Motors and Volkswagen, plans to become one of the world’s top six auto makers by 2020, a senior executive reportedly said on Tuesday.

That would mean Shanghai Auto, which is eyeing an overseas listing to raise a reported $US2 billion but is now a minnow in the global car arena, would have to knock an already deeply entrenched global manufacturer off its perch, Reuters noted.

General Motors had pole position in 2003, followed by Toyota and Ford, while Shanghai Auto did not even make it into the top 10, the report said.

Shanghai Auto – which now only makes cars in partnership with GM and Volkswagen – would also face stiff competition from the likes of South Korea’s Hyundai Motor, which wants to become one of the world’s top five auto makers by 2010, Reuters added.

The state-run giant, which in July agreed to buy part of South Korea’s Ssangyong Motor Co. for a reported $500 million, would keep seeking acquisitions overseas and also develop its own brand, vice-President Xiao Guopu reportedly said.

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“By 2020, we want to double what we will achieve in 2010… becoming one of the world’s top six auto makers,” Xiao told a forum in the city’s western suburbs, according to Reuters.

The news agency said Chinese companies are known for announcing ambitious, ultra-long term targets.

Xiao reportedly said that Shanghai Auto’s objective would entail making four million vehicles a year and annual sales of 800 billion yuan ($US96.66 billion) – sales stood at 97.3 billion yuan in 2003.

According to Reuters, last year, Shanghai Auto sold just 782,000 vehicles and now only makes minibuses and a few other commercial vehicles under its own brand – by comparison, GM sold 4.7 million vehicles in the United States alone in 2003.

However, Shanghai Auto’s ventures with GM and Volkswagen have announced plans to as much as double production over the next three years, the report noted.