* Vehicle sales to rise to 1.3 mln a yr by 2015 from 0.6 mln expected this yr
* Exports to rise to 0.3 mln by 2015 from 0.1 mln this yr
By Hui Li and Norihiko Shirouzu
BEIJING, Nov 9 (Reuters) - China’s Great Wall Motor Co Ltd aims to more than double annual vehicle sales by 2015, gaining steam in part from exports, company chairman Wei Jianjun said on Friday.
Speaking during a session of the Communist Party’s congress, Wei said Great Wall Motor plans to sell a total of 1.3 million vehicles a year by 2015, up from more than 600,000 vehicles it expects to sell this year.
By 2015, he said Great Wall Motor’s exports should total 300,000 vehicles a year, about one-fourth of its expected overall sales by then and up significantly from the 100,000 cars the company expects to sell outside China this year.
Great Wall Motor is already one of China’s biggest exporters of motor vehicles, selling sedans, sport-utility vehicles and pickup trucks mostly in emerging markets such as Russia and South Africa.
Over time, however, it has ambitions in the United States and Western Europe.
“We are aiming to export to higher end markets like Europe,” Wei said in response to a reporter’s question.
In order to improve vehicle quality and make products more attractive, Wei said Great Wall Motor is investing in technology.
The company, he said, is currently building a 5-billion-yuan technical center in its home base of Baoding, an industrial city 160 kilometers southwest of Beijing, which is slated to open in 2014.
Among other technologies, the company is developing “new-energy” cars, such as conventional gasoline-electric hybrids and so-called plug-in electric cars. Those cars are expected to hit the market in two years, he said.
Great Wall Motor is known for its pickup trucks and SUVs, although it has been making efforts more recently to break into the passenger sedan market.
Its longer-term ambition is to directly challenge global peers such as General Motors Co and Mercedes-Benz. To do so, it is trying to adopt more distinctive designs and has tapped foreign talent for help.
In 2010, the company hired Andreas Deufel, formerly of Daimler AG’s Mercedes-Benz arm, to design more original vehicles.
“Great Wall Motor will try to match world’s famous brands in the quality of our products, and build super cost-effective cars,” Wei said.