Chinese carmaker Chery builds own engine block plant

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Chinese carmaker Chery Automobile has started the construction of a foundry plant of engine blocks with an investment of more than 2 billion yuan (286 million U.S. dollars) to meet its demand of car production.

The foundry plant, covering an area of 214,300 square meters, will also make crankshafts, exhausts and other parts, according to Chery officials.

The project's first phase will be completed at the end of this year with an annual production capacity of 800,000 casts, and the whole plant is scheduled to be completed in 2010 with six production lines to make 2.4 million pieces annually.

A ground-breaking ceremony was held in Wuhu, east China's Anhui Province, on Wednesday.

Engine blocks have become a bottleneck for the development of Chery, which aims at both domestic and overseas markets, the company officials said.

The 11-year-old company, based in Wuhu, plans to raise its annual output to one million vehicles by 2010.

Vehicle sales are forecast to reach a record 480,000 units this year, after rising 24.8 percent year on year to 381,000 units in 2007. The company remained the country's fourth largest automobile seller in 2007, it said.

Its exports, which jumped 132 percent to 119,800 units in 2007,were expected to rise to 180,000 this year.

The flag-bearer of Chinese indigenous brands has accelerated its expansion overseas in recent years, with its exports topping all other domestic rivals for five consecutive years.