Honda has said its Chinese joint venture Guangzhou Honda Auto has established a new proprietary car brand, Li Nian, and will start selling vehicles under the brand in 2010.

The automaker has also unveiled a Li Nian concept vehicle.

Li Nian vehicles will be developed by Guangzhou Honda and distributed through its sales network, Honda said in a statement.

“While receiving support from Honda Motor in Japan, Guangzhou Honda will take the initiative to develop Li Nian brand products that embody more of the specific needs of Chinese customers,” the statement said. Guangzhou Honda will also begin sales of Honda’s all-new Fit before the end of 2008.

The move by Guangzhou Honda Auto to establish its own brand is the first by a Western-local OEM JV in China and is seen by analysts as part of the preparation for a structural shift in the Chinese market under which foreign brands come increasingly under pressure from fast rising domestics.

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Shanghai-Volkswagen (SVW) is said to be considering a similar move.