Chinese car maker Geely is considering whether to make cars in the United States in order to begin selling there as soon as 2008, its chairman said on Thursday.
Entry into the U.S. market could be achieved in several ways, and production in the United States is an option under discussion, Li Shufu, who founded Geely Automobile Holdings Ltd. told Reuters in an interview.
Geely, a fast-growing auto company based in the east Chinese province of Zhejiang, had previously announced a plan to export to the United States.
Establishing a factory there would mark an expansion of its global ambitions and might make it the second Chinese auto firm to build cars in the United States. In July, Nanjing Automobile Group announced plans to assemble vehicles in an Oklahoma plant.
In the U.S. market, Geely will sell self-developed models designed specially for North America, said Li, 43.
He did not give details, but other executives told Reuters that the first models would be priced at roughly $10,000.
Li, in Shanghai to celebrate an expansion of capacity at subsidiary Shanghai Maple Automobile, said good preparations would be essential to a successful U.S. debut. Geely needs to have carefully designed sales and service networks, he said.
China last year became a net vehicle exporter for the first time. It exported 172,800 vehicles, with sales boosted mostly by a relatively young crop of auto makers such as Geely, Chery Automobile and Great Wall Motor.
Li founded the Geely group in 1986 as a maker of refrigerator parts, and it subsequently moved into decorating materials, motorcycles and cars.
Geely aims to export nearly 20,000 cars this year, mostly to developing countries, and exports could double in 2007, Li said. Previously, the company had set an export target for this year of 10,000 cars.
The auto maker plans to more than double its annual production capacity to 650,000 vehicles in two years, from 300,000 planned for the end of 2006.
Geely, which has two manufacturing units in east China, is building plants in the center and northwest of the country, and is considering a proposal to add a production base in the northeast.
Asked if he has ambitions for the European market, Li said: Sure, we are looking globally. He did not elaborate.