Renault boss Carlos Ghosn is targeting annual sales of about 735,000 cars in China when the company’s new road car operation there gets up to full speed.
The company has forged a joint venture with Chinese automotive superpower Dongfeng and last week the first fruits of the relationship, a new 150,000-capacity production plant, was officially opened in Wuhan in central China.
The factory will build two Renault-badged crossovers for the Chinese market to take advantage of an explosion in popularity of high-riding vehicles. The market for crossovers and SUVs in China grew by 53% last year compared with 2014.
Renault is one of the last of the major European makes to forge a joint venture to enable it to build and sell cars in China. Previously, Renault sold fewer than 25,000 cars per year in China and as an import-only operation, the prices of its products were heavily taxed.
Although Ghosn wouldn’t put a timeframe on how rapidly Renault could grow in China, he eventually expected the company to attain about “3 and 3.5%” of the nation’s new car market, which currently comprises around 21m per year but is expected to reach 25m by 2020.
The new Wuhan plant has the potential for expansion to produce up to 300,000 vehicles. When production of the two crossovers is underway, the factory will build an electric saloon based on the Fluence on behalf of Dongfeng.