Industry analysts widely agree that one of the principal factors preventing Chinese automakers from succeeding outside of China is the local industry's fragmentation, with over 100 automakers vying for their slice of the proverbial pie. However, a merger announced Wednesday between two major Chinese automakers, Shanghai Automotive Industrial Corp (SAIC) and Nanjing Automotive Group, stands a stronger chance of succeeding in the international car market as a larger group.

The merger, which has been long anticipated, involves SAIC paying $285.7 million for Nanjing. In return, Nanjing's parent company acquires 4.9 percent of SAIC Motor Corp.

The products of SAIC's joint ventures with GM and Volkswagen Group account for 14% of the domestic market in China, selling 1.25 million vehicles in the first ten months of 2007. Nanjing, meanwhile, sold less than 80,000 over the same period, making the acquisition a merger in the same sense as Mercedes had "merged" with Chrysler. Nanjing, however, owns MG Rover, whose plants in England SAIC hopes to use as a foothold into the European market.

[Source: Automotive News – subscription required]