SAIC Motor – the owner of MG and GM and VW joint ventures partner – said first-half profit surged 46% year on year due to higher sales but a slowing economy and the ending of government incentives to buy cars curtail sales growth in China this year.

Profit climbed to CNY8.58bn (US$1.34bn), up from CNY5.87bn a year earlier, Reuters reported. Revenue increased 25% to CNY183.9bn.

The carmaker sold 2.01m vehicles in the first half, up 13%.

It said it expects growth in China automobile sales to slow sharply in 2011, estimating industry-wide sales to rise 3.6% to 19m units for the full year. The company in March said it hoped to sell four million vehicles this year, Reuters noted.

The company said it will speed up the launch of new models, optimise its product mix and try to explore overseas business in the second half, without elaborating.

China Car Times said SAIC is planning to put dual clutch (DCT) automated transmissions into its own cars and is working on a new Roewe 750, based on a stretched Epsilon II platform that SAIC have purchased from long term partner GM, for launch in 2012. This will replace the current Rover 75-based model. New 1.8 turbo and two-litre engines will replace the current 1.8 Turbo and 2.5-litre V6 (also from Rover) soon after launch.

SAIC is also developing turbocharged one- and 1.5-litre engines for its MG brand.

The Roewe 550 will be updated later this year with the introduction of a new six speed DCT gearbox and will also have SAIC’s new self developed EPS system, China Car Times said.