SHANGHAI Automobile Industry Corp has hired Gao Jiawei, formerly with General Motors Corp, to strengthen its research and development capability as it seeks to roll out vehicles under its own nameplate.
SAIC Motor Manufacturing Co Ltd, the major platform of SAIC for making vehicles with its own technology, has appointed Gao as the director of its production line-up.
It is understood that the new company is considering producing smaller-sized vehicles, a source told Shanghai Daily.
A SAIC Motor spokesman refused to comment yesterday.
SAIC Motor has an abundance of talent in its pool after lapping up 150 auto engineers from failed carmaker MG Rover.
Gao's appointment comes after SAIC named another former General Motors staffer Wang Dazhong as its vice president in March.
The former GM chief engineer and design manager will be responsible for technical management and product development, including R&D capabilities of the company.
SAIC, China's second-largest automaker, has been aggressively eying expansion after winning the intellectual property right for Rover 25 and Rover 75 from the British carmaker early last year.
The Shanghai enterprise, which cooperated with both General Motors Corp and Volkswagen AG, plans to invest 13.6 billion yuan (US$1.69 billion) to launch 30 models with its own technology in the market over the next five years.
SAIC Motor's first self-branded model, a mid-to-high range family car based on the Rover 75, will roll out in the second half of this year followed by another family car early next year.
Reports elsewhere said the company has also spent US$22 million to gain the Rover brand from BMW Corp. However, Huang Huaqiong, a spokesman for SAIC Motor, said the Chinese name for the models haven't been decided yet. The company's manufacturing plant aims to produce 300,000 vehicles by 2010.