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French President Jacques Chirac travelled to the central Chinese city of Wuhan on Friday to launch a joint-venture car plant with French auto firm PSA Peugeot Citroen.

Chirac laid a foundation stone at the new plant, a 50-50 joint venture with leading Chinese car maker Dongfeng, a company official said.

The plant is the second joint venture in Wuhan between the two companies. It is scheduled to begin operating in 2009 and will eventually produce 150,000 units a year, PSA Peugeot Citroen said in a press release.

The current Wuhan plant produces eight different models and will expand capacity to 300,000 vehicles a year by 2008.

"By the end of the decade, the joint venture will offer a comprehensive model line-up ranging from compact cars to large executive sedans," it said.

The Wuhan joint-venture sold 145,500 units in the first nine months of 2006, up 38 per cent year-on-year, and hopes to reach 200,000 for the whole of 2006, the statement said.
 
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