FILE PHOTO: A Haval H6 Coupe from Great Wall Motors is displayed at Shanghai Auto Show during its media day, in Shanghai, China April 19, 2017. REUTERS/Aly Song

China's Great Wall expects mild domestic auto sales growth in second half

BEIJING (Reuters) - Great Wall Motor (601633.SS) expects China’s overall auto sales in the second half this year to return to the same level as last year, its president said, as the world’s biggest auto market recovers from a coronavirus-driven low.

Facing a sales downturn and fierce competition, China’s top pickup truck maker “will pursue reasonable sales and higher market share, in order to better guarantee the profitability and brand image”, Wang Fengying, president of Great Wall, said in a statement.

Great Wall will roll out electric models as well as gasoline-electric hybrid and plug-in hybrid models, Wang said, adding the Baoding-based company plans to start selling hydrogen fuel-cell passenger cars in 2023.

The company, which has invested 17.5 billion yuan ($2.46 billion) on technology research and development in the past five years, will spend 30 billion yuan on electrification, intelligent vehicles, mobility technologies in coming years, Wang said. She did not give details of the investments.

Saying that China’s auto production and sales will enter a low-speed growth stage, Wang urged the government to support the country’s automakers’ overseas expansion.

Great Wall agreed to buy two plants in India and Thailand from General Motors (GM.N) earlier this year. It plans to sell more pickup truck models in ASEAN countries, Australia, South Africa and in South America.

To better manage the supply chain, Great Wall, which is building a plant with BMW (BMWG.DE), will localise production of more “core car parts”, she said, without elaboration.