Korea-based SsangYong may start production of an SUV in China in the second half of 2008 as it expects Beijing to approve a joint venture with its top shareholder SAIC this year, Ssangyong’s president has said.

But Choi Hyung-tak, also SsangYong’s chief executive, said SAIC and SsangYong did not have a plan to build a new plant in the world’s No. 2 car market even after setting up the joint venture, Reuters reported.

“We expect the Chinese government to approve it this year at the earliest. With the approval, we will produce the Kyron in the second half,” Choi told Reuters in an interview late on Saturday ahead of the Beijing Auto Show, refering to its compact SUV model.

“But the joint venture will not build a new plant in China as SAIC has many idle factories. We will use the existing facilities as much as possible,” Choi added.

SsangYong is also considering producing the Chairman W, its premium sedan, at SAIC in China.

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SsangyYng plans to start exporting the premium model to China after the motor show, probably in the second half, initially selling completed cars, Choi said.

“In China, auto makers have been facing a severe price war. So, we will consider many ways to cut tariffs, such as kit exports or production in SAIC,” he said.

SsangYong aims to sell 10,000 units of the Chairman W abroad this year with 500 units in China, Reuters reported.