Mumbai: India’s auto industry is all set to enter a new era of competition as China’s largest commercial vehicle maker Beiqi Foton has decided to invest Rs 1,676 crore for a one-lakh units per annum plant in India.

The company plans to launch its first product in the lucrative domestic market by 2013.

The manufacturing facility, the company’s first outside mainland China, will be located in Western Maharashtra and it has already zeroed-in on three potential sites for the plant.

“India is a big opportunity and we plan to start rolling-out vehicles by 2013 from the plant,” the company’s Executive Vice President for India Operations, R Shankar, told reporters after Foton and the Maharashtra Government inked a MoU to set up the facility.

The USD 400-million investments by Foton, which produced seven-lakh vehicles last year, will be the highest foreign direct investment by a Chinese company in India and the company is exploring options to sell light, medium and heavy trucks in India, Shankar said.

The Beijing-based company exports to over 100 countries across the world and operates six manufacturing plants in China, apart from running KD (knock-down) operations in Russia, Iran, Pakistan, Vietnam, Indonesia and Kenya where vehicles are assembled.