It is owned by the local government of Wuhu (but is scheduled to be privatized), and sold about 381,000 vehicles in 2007. It is the largest independent Chinese auto manufacturer and one of the fastest growing automakers in the world.
Chery was founded in 1997 to prop up the economy of Wuhu, a region of China that has received little industrial development in 1995. Its first factory used machines and engine technology purchased from Ford Europe for US$25 million. It began auto production in 1999 using a licenced chassis from SEAT's Toledo. The company was an illegitimate company under Chinese law of the time and had to be registered as a "Car Parts Supplier." Thus, the company was not able to obtain a license to sell their cars in all of China. In 2001, Shanghai Automotive Industry Corporation (SAIC) bought a 20% stake in the company, allowing Chery to use SAIC's national retail sales license. In 2001, Chery began exporting its cars to Syria, becoming China's first car exporter. Chery also received its ISO-9001 certification. In September 2002, Chery received its ISO/ TS 16949 certification, the highest certification at the time.