(Yicai Global) June 27 -- Audi has taken a stake in the Chinese joint venture of Volkswagen and SAIC Motor, China's largest automaker, opening the way to joint production and sales of Audi-branded petrol cars and new energy vehicles in the world's biggest auto market.
Among luxury carmakers, Audi long enjoyed being the top seller in China. But in the first four months of this year, Mercedes-Benz took a narrow lead over its German rival. This month's deal may help Audi to get back into the driving seat.
The 1 percent transfer of equity in SAIC Volkswagen Automotive to Audi from Volkswagen lays the foundation for developing and building the first car under SAIC Motor and Audi, Chen Hong, chairman of Shanghai-based SAIC Motor said at a shareholders' meeting yesterday. He did not disclose the purchase price.
The partners will introduce Audi brand cars through a sales company they plan to later set up under another joint venture. The JV and the Ingolstadt-based carmaker already agreed to build Audi cars in 2016, but the plans stalled when Audi's other local JV, partly owned by state-run China FAW Group, claimed the existing sales channels would suffer. The parties agreed to produce different models.
Under Chinese law, SAIC Volkswagen has the right to produce and sell Audi products, said Chen, adding that the project is moving along to a set timeframe. The firms said earlier that the production of Audi Q8 sports utility vehicle should start this year.
SAIC Motor now owns half of SAIC Volkswagen, Wolfsburg-based Volkswagen owns 38 percent and Volkswagen China has 10 percent, while Audi and Skoda have 1 percent each. The JV was set up in 1984.
Editor: Emmi Laine