(Reuters) - Great Wall Motor Co (2333.HK) (601633.SS) sees sales improving next year when it plans to launch several new models but China's biggest maker of sport utility vehicles (SUV) remains cautious about exports due to currency volatility and intensifying competition, President Wang Fengying said on Monday.
Last week, Great Wall reported a 22 percent slump in third-quarter profit hit by a delay to the launch of its premium SUV model Haval H8 due to quality issues. Sales by volume fell 8.1 percent during the first nine months.
"Sales next year should increase from this year due to new model launches," Wang told Reuters in an interview on the sidelines of a conference in Shanghai, adding that planned products in 2015 include H8, H9 and H6 Cooper. She declined to give a specific launch date.
Wang attributed recent weakness in the company's exports to currency volatility, but said over the long term, Great Wall remains optimistic about Russia, it's biggest export market, despite political turmoil. The European Union and the United States have tightened sanctions on Moscow over its support for rebels in eastern Ukraine.
Earlier this year, Great Wall unveiled plans to invest an initial 2.1 billion yuan ($343 million) to set up a production base in Russia that will manufacture up to 150,000 vehicles a year.
"We're investing in Russia not for tomorrow, but for the long term," Wang said, adding the decision to build the plant followed years of feasibility studies. She declined to elaborate further.
Wang also declined to give a target for next year's sales, but sounded a note of caution to the growth of the overall auto market.
"Competition is becoming more and more fierce," she said. "The good days (for carmakers) are over."
Growth in China's auto market, the world's biggest, will halve to 7 percent this year weighed down by a slowing economy, Dong Yang, secretary general of the China Association of Automobile Manufacturers (CAAM) forecast over the weekend.