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March 19, 2003

CHINA: Land Rover eyes local production

Land Rover is considering producing some of its vehicles in China, according to a report in the country’s Business Weekly.

By bcusack

Land Rover is considering producing some of its vehicles in China, according to a report in the country’s Business Weekly.

“We will be evaluating the opportunities for the local manufacture of some of our products (in China),” Bill Begg, head of Land Rover’s China operation, told Business Weekly.

“This will ensure we are an integral part of the exciting future which the Chinese car market is facing,” Begg added at the local launch of the Range Rover.

“Ford’s plant is an option we will examine,” Begg reportedly said, when asked if Land Rover would manufacture its vehicles at parent company Ford’s new joint venture plant in Chongqing Municipality, which recently began building saloon models based on the European Fiesta.

According to Business Weekly, Begg’s remarks came two months after Ford executive vice-president David Thursfield said the company might produce other brands, such as Land Rover and Volvo, in China.

“We are considering which models will be suitable for (local production) in China,” Begg reportedly said.

Land Rover officials told Business Weekly that the company launched the Range Rover in China to compete against rival luxury SUV manufacturers BMW, Mercedes-Benz and Porsche.

Other major players – such as Chrysler, General Motors, Mitsubishi and Nissan – have for years produced SUVs in their Chinese joint ventures.

Toyota also announced it will begin producing later this year two SUV models in China while Mitsubishi has previously said it plans to grab half – about 128,000 units – of China’s SUV market by 2010, Business Weekly said.

The publication noted that Beijing Jeep, DaimlerChrysler’s joint venture, last week cut prices of its Grand Cherokees by 35,000 yuan ($US4,220) to 399,000 yuan ($48,100) and 429,000 yuan ($51,700) in a bid to expand market share.

“Now, our No 1 priority (in China) is to establish a countrywide network of importers and dealers offering our complete range of sales and after-sales services,” Begg told Business Weekly.

He added that Land Rover would soon appoint new importers in China in addition to the current two.

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