China's largest automaker, Shanghai Automotive Industries Corporation (SAIC Motor ) has set up shop in Michigan.
SAIC USA recently opened a new North American Operations Centre in the affluent Detroit suburb of Birmingham. The move is billed as an important step in creating a stronger connection between the U.S. and Chinese automotive industries.
Other companies under the SAIC Motor umbrella include Shanghai GM, Shanghai VW, SAIC Motor Commercial Vehicle Company, SAIC-GM Wuling Automobile Co. and many others – among them the former British brand MG.
In total SAIC Motor sold over 4 million vehicles in 2011, in the Chinese market alone. It is said to be the eighth largest automotive manufacturer in the world.
China overtook the U.S.A as the world's largest car market in 2009. Last year, 20 million new cars were sold in China.
With the increasing importance of cooperation between the major global automotive markets, this move by SAIC to strengthen its U.S. presence is said to be significant.
Underlining its importance, the inauguration ceremony was attended by senior executives from General Motors, SAIC Motor in Shanghai, major automotive suppliers and partners from the U.S. and China, as well as various politicians from the Governor of Michigan on down
The 2800 square-metre (30,000 square-foot) SAIC USA headquarters will eventually house nearly 100 people, the company says.
It will focus on three main areas of SAIC USA's automotive business:
Purchasing – sourcing and purchasing of automotive parts, materials and components working with almost 150 different North American suppliers;
Logistics – exporting and importing automotive parts and components;
Technology and Engineering – design, engineering and quality control for development and production of vehicle parts and components;
SAIC Motor Chairman, Mr. Maoyuan Hu, who attended the opening ceremony, said: "I believe SAIC USA will continue to work as a bridge and link between SAIC Motor and the U.S. auto industry. Further, we expect SAIC USA will continue healthy growth in this market and this will be a new chapter of mutually beneficial cooperation for China and the US, with the support of both countries."
No mention was made of any plans for selling Chinese-made cars in North America. But it seems like a logical next step.