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.
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