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by Tim Beissmann

The president of one the largest automotive manufacturers in China has predicted that domestic vehicle production will triple within the next 10 years to around 40 million cars per year.

Beijing Automotive (BAIC) President, Wang Dazong, told reporters in Detroit that he believed half of the world’s vehicle production would take place in China by 2020.

Mr Dazong predicted BAIC – currently China’s fifth-largest vehicle manufacturer – would more than double its production within five years to more than three million units annually.

BAIC is currently signed to joint ventures with numerous mainstream automotive manufacturers, including Mercedes-Benz, Hyundai, Chrysler and Mitsubishi, and last year purchased the tooling for the previous-generation Saab 9-3 and 9-5.

Mr Dazong said hybrid and electric vehicles would play a significant role in the future of his brand and the industry as a whole.

“When you’re talking 40 million [cars] a year and 15 million from India, energy will become a problem”, Mr Wang said, as reported by the Financial Times.

“At the same time, we realise that in the short term it’s not going to become mainstream.”

He predicted hybrid and electric vehicles would account for around five percent of BAIC’s sales by 2015.

Sales of passenger cars in China peaked at 13.8 million in 2010, topping the US for the second consecutive year.

Potentially standing in the way of Mr Dazong’s predictions is the Chinese Government, which has recently taken steps to reduce the number of new vehicles registered in major cities.

Earlier this month, CarAdvice reported that the Beijing City Council had limited the number of passenger vehicle registrations to 240,000 for 2011 for the city, down from around 800,000 in 2010.