Shanghai Automotive Industry Corp, a partner of Volkswagen AG and General Motors, signed a memorandum of understanding with the city government of Nanjing, capital of Jiangsu province, pledging to invest 10 billion yuan (1.5 billion U.S. dollars) for the expanded production.

The investment will help to triple the production to 1 mllion units within five years, the carmaker said.

The expansion would drive annual auto sales to 100 billion yuan (15.1 billion U.S. dollars) at the Nanjing Automobile (Group) Corp., which was taken over by SAIC in December 2007, the company said in a statement.

Nanjing Auto is expected to produce and sell nearly 300,000 motor vehicles this year, it said. The figure is twice as high as that in 2007, helping Nanjing Auto's finances return to the black.

SAIC sold 3.29 million passenger cars and commercial vehicles in the first 11 months of 2010, up 35 percent from one year earlier.