China's largest carmaker Shanghai Automotive Industry Corp said Oct. 17 it would launch its first branded car, based on technology from defunct British carmaker Rover, by the end of the year. The announcement follows news that Ford Motor Co. bought the Rover name from BMW AG for $11.3 million in a move aimed at protecting the image of its British subsidiary Land Rover. Ford bought Land Rover from BMW in 2000 as well as an option to acquire the Rover brand name.
SAIC, which has joint ventures with General Motors and Volkswagen and currently produces sedans mainly under the brands of its foreign partners, said it would announce the new model's name next month.
SAIC said the car was developed by its research and development team in Europe "based on the complete copyrights of the Rover 75 model." The Chinese firm controls the intellectual property rights to two Rover models, the 25 and 75, though it lost to rival Nanjing Automobile Group in a bid for MG Rover Group Ltd.
Nanjing Automobile Corporation bought MG Rover, Britain's last major independent automaker, for 53 million pounds after it collapsed last year.
Copyright Agence France-Presse, 2006