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Ready To Roll: China's New Master Plan To Challenge World's Top Automakers

Chinese carmakers have made some inroads in the automotive industry, but don’t yet pose much of a threat to their major European, Japanese and American counterparts. That could change – and quickly.

A recent model by Chinese carmaker BYD
A recent model by Chinese carmaker BYD


Fueled by billions in government spending, China is preparing to launch a concerted challenge to the global automobile industry. Moving beyond its tendency to copy others' designs and technological advances, Chinese industrialists are set to build as many as five innovative mega-companies that could challenge the likes of Volkswagen, General Motors and Toyota by the end of the decade.

European manufacturers recognize the challenge. "Just the way the Japanese and the Koreans did, the Chinese will become globally competitive," the head of Daimler, Dieter Zetsche, told Die Welt. Porsche boss Matthias Müller too believes that within five to 10 years the Chinese could be exporting cars. And board chairman Wolfgang Porsche thinks it could be as few as three years. "They learn incredibly fast," he added.

Two of the biggest Chinese car companies have already announced ambitious plans. Chery says it wants to produce "cars to Western standards' and roll out three different Qoros brand models for global sale next year. Competitor BYD (Build your Dreams) is already one step ahead of that and has opened a branch in Los Angeles. "Never underestimate the Chinese," said Jean-Marc Gales, CEO of PSA brands Peugeot und Citroën. "Some companies are already building damn good cars."

China's government is encouraging the country's manufacturers to merge into large conglomerates that could buy up European, American or Japanese companies. MG Rover and Volvo have already been bought by Chinese companies, two of which -- Youngman and Pang Da – are currently looking to buy Saab.

Bosses for Germany's luxury brands say they aren't worried -- yet. "I'm assuming they'll seek to impact the mass car market first," says BMW head Norbert Reithofer, while Audi chief Rupert Stadler notes that: "For the time being, we're still seeing that our Chinese partners need and accept our know-how and support." For the time being.

Read the full story in German by Nikolaus Doll

Photo - RogerWo

*Newsbites are digest items, not direct translations

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food / travel

Pasta v. Fascists: How Italy's Staple Dish Became A Symbol Of Resistance

Pasta may not be considered controversial today, but it played an important role during Italy's fascist years, particularly in one family's celebration of community and liberation.

Photo of the Cervi family.

Photo of the Cervi family, whose seven children were shot by the Fascists on December 28, 1943, at the Reggio Emilia shooting range.

@comunisti_alla_ribalta via Instagram
Jacopo Fontaneto

ROME — Eighty years ago — on July 25, 1943 — the vote of no confidence by the Grand Council of Fascism, leading to Benito Mussolini's arrest, set off widespread celebrations. In Campegine, a small village in the Emilian province, the Cervi family celebrated in their own way: they brought 380 kilograms of pasta in milk cans to the town square and offered it to all the inhabitants of the village.

The pasta was strictly plain: macaroni dressed with butter and cheese, seen as more of a "festive dish" in that period of deprivation. As soon as the Cervi brothers learned about the arrest of Mussolini, they procured flour, borrowed butter and cheese from the dairy, and prepared kilos and kilos of pasta. They then loaded it onto a cart to distribute it to their fellow villagers. Pastasciutta (dry pasta) specifically regards dishes with noodles that are plated "dry", not in broth. That would disqualify soup, risotto, ravioli...

Even though pastasciutta is the most stereotypical type of pasta today, it had a complicated relationship with the government during Italy's fascist years.

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