SAIC-GM-Wuling, General Motors’ Chinese joint venture and market leader in light commercial vehicles with sales of 1.06m last year, will launch its own passenger car brand this year, sales boss Yang Jie told the China Daily.

 “The year of 2010 will be a milestone for SAIC-GM-Wuling,” he said. The company is a three-way tie-up between GM, SAIC Motor Corp and Wuling Motors, which is owned by the local Guangxi Zhuang government.

The company is forecasting annual sales of 1.23m this year.

“We will launch a self-developed brand in the medium-sized sedan segment to improve our competitiveness, aiming for long-term and sustainable development in the future,” said Yang.

“The passenger car will be our company’s focus this year, while we still persevere to maintain our dominant leadership in the light commercial vehicle market in China.”

Wuling has started to establish the distribution network for the new brand, but the company has not disclosed the timetable for the passenger car project.

The new car, based on the prototype of GM’s Excelle model, is under development in the Pan-Asia Technical Automotive Center, a joint venture between GM and SAIC.

Chinese domestic makers in technology sharing ventures with Western makers are now developing their own models and brands.