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Nikkei Markets

Great Wall Motor expects to enter US market by 2021

HONG KONG (Nikkei Markets) -- Chinese sports-utility vehicle and pick-up truck maker Great Wall Motor on Monday said it is targeting to enter the U.S. market by 2021, as part of its increasing focus on overseas development.

"We don't yet have plans for building a factory in the U.S., but work of research and product development for the U.S. market have started," Chairman Wei Jianjun said at a post-earnings press conference in Hong Kong on Tuesday. "We plan to step into the U.S. market by 2021. There is a lot preparation to do on operation side, such as network establishment."

He said Great Wall currently plans to cooperate with local factories in the U.S. that may be owned by local or Chinese firms.

As of now, the company has a presence in China, parts of Europe, Australia, South Africa, Asia Pacific, the Middle East and parts of South America.

Late Friday, the automaker reported a 52.4% drop in full year profit to 5.03 billion yuan ($796.6 million), as it had warned in January. Operating revenue for the period edged 2.6% higher to 101.2 billion yuan. Selling expenses for 2017 jumped 38.8%, while research and development costs grew 5.8%.

The company, which sells cars under brands such as Great Wall, Haval and WEY, said it expects average sales price per car to increase 5,000 yuan to 10,000 yuan in 2018, aligning with industry levels amid rising costs.

The Chinese automaker is targeting a sales volume target of 1.16 million units for 2018, an over 8% increase from 2017. It expects new energy vehicles to contribute 8% to total sales in 2019, Wei said.

As at Dec. 31, the company had total liabilities of 61.29 billion yuan and total equity of 49.26 billion yuan, with a gearing ratio of 124.4%. It expects the ratio to remain stable in 2018.

Great Wall shares were down 4.5% at HK$8.09 in Hong Kong by 1:35 p.m., while the benchmark Hang Seng Index shed 0.6% amid worries about a trade war between U.S. and China.

-- Carrie Chen

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