SAIC Motors reshuffles leadership amid sluggish sales

SAIC Motor president Wang Xiaoqiu has been elected chair in a leadership reshuffle as China’s largest carmaker navigates through sluggish sales in its home market and hefty tariffs it faces in the EU.

Wang takes over from Chen Hong who resigned from the chair post on reaching retirement age of 63, according to a company filing with the Shanghai stock market on Wednesday. Vice-president Jia Jianxu now serves as president.

Wang, 59, is a veteran auto executive with an engineering background who started as a quality control manager at SAIC and headed the joint venture with General Motors in the past.

The leadership reshuffle at the state-owned carmaker comes as SAIC plans to request a hearing from the European Commission on the high tariffs it faces on its EV exports to the bloc.

The provisional duties of between 17.4% and 37.6% on Chinese-made electric cars are designed to prevent what the EU has described as a threatened flood of cheap EVs built with state subsidies, which China strongly opposes.

The tariffs by the EU, a major market for SAIC’s exports, were compounded by its sluggish domestic sales.

SAIC’s joint ventures with Volkswagen and GM posted a decline in sales amid anaemic demand and intensified competition in the world’s largest car market where a protracted price war has drawn in more than 40 brands.

SAIC-VW sales fell 14.4% in June from a year earlier, while at its JV with GM sales plunged 72%.

Overall, SAIC booked an 11.8% fall in first-half car sales at 1.83-million units. More than a quarter of its vehicles were delivered to overseas markets in the period and its MG brand was the best-selling Chinese EV brand in Europe.

By comparison, China’s electric vehicle giant BYD sold 1.61-million passenger vehicles in the first half, up 28.8% year on year, closing the gap with Tesla after handing back the world’s top EV vendor title to the US competitor in the first quarter.

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