SAIC Motor, China's biggest carmaker by sales, reportedly has halted a plan to export its own branded vehicles to the US until it gets more clarity on Sino-US trade policy under President Donald Trump.
Bloomberg said SAIC, which has joint ventures with General Motors and Volkswagen in China, had been exporting locally-made Buick Envision SUVs to North America since May last year. The Shanghai-based company, which owns the MG and Roewe brands, has said it was making preparations to enter the US on its own.
"Eventually we aim to have all, but at the moment we are focusing on" China and then Europe, Michael Yang, executive director of SAIC Motor's international department, told Bloomberg at the Shanghai motor show. "The reason is the 'climate change' after the new presidency."
SAIC Motor had set an internal target to enter both the US and Europe by 2019, according to a Bloomberg source.
Bloomberg noted state-owned SAIC Motor's wait-and-see attitude contrasts with Guangzhou Automobile Group which is pressing ahead with plans to start sales of its Trumpchi brand in the US.
GAC, the sixth-largest automaker in China by volume, is "actively preparing" to establish its research centre in the US while conducting a preliminary study of the North American market, Yu Jun, general manager of the state-owned company's Trumpchi unit, told Bloomberg at the Shanghai show. The manufacturer aims to enter the US no later than 2019 to help build Trumpchi into an international brand, he said.
Great Wall Motor, China's biggest SUV maker, has a research centre in Los Angeles and will accelerate preparations to develop US-certified versions of its Haval SUVs for sale by 2020, chairman Wei Jianjun said last month.
Bloomberg noted GAC has been laying the groundwork for its US entry for several years, featuring its GS5 sedan in a Transformers movie in 2014 and airing commercials for its GS7 SUV on giant electronic billboards in New York's Times Square in November to raise consumer awareness.
SAIC Motor also has a presence in the US, according to the report. It has a trading company based in Detroit, a research centre and a venture capital investment firm in Silicon Valley. The Envision exported to the US is made at its Chinese joint venture with GM.
Shares of SAIC Motor have gained about 16 percent this year, while Guangzhou Automobile has risen 28 percent.
SAIC Motor unveiled a sports coupe concept under its MG brand, which it bills as the start of a design revamp that it hopes will lift the marque's profile among local and overseas consumers. SAIC Motor accounts for one out of five vehicles sold in the country last year and posted its eight consecutive year of profit gain in 2016. Under the Roewe brand, SAIC Motor introduced an Internet-connected SUV with Alibaba Group Holding Ltd.
The carmaker has plans for five sedans, nine SUVs and 10 new-energy vehicle models under the MG and Roewe brands by 2020, targeting both China and oveseas markets, according to the company's product planning director Zhang Liang.
GAC said earlier this year it expects to have about 10 percent of Trumpchi sales from overseas markets by 2020.
"Trumpchi's goal is to become a world-class Chinese brand," Yu told Bloomberg. "And we would like to make our research, production and sales global."