First-Quarter Passenger-Vehicle Sales in China—Better than Expected

China-02China’s passenger-vehicle sales ended the first quarter with a double-digit gain from the same quarter a year ago, mainly due to new product launches, increases in luxury or premium brand sales, in addition to dealer incentives, based on analysis and data from J.D. Power’s strategic partner LMC Automotive.

A 14% gain in passenger-vehicle sales to 1.43 million units during March bolstered first-quarter totals. First-quarter light-vehicle sales in China rose by 15% from the same period in 2012 to 5.44 million units.

SUVs and Luxury Cars Create Enthusiasm in China Market

The best-performing segment in China during the quarter was the SUV segment, which saw sales surge by 43% from the same quarter in 2012. New product launches added momentum to demand in this category. Continue reading ›

China’s Automakers Eye India for Future Growth

Ammar Master

Ammar Master

The rapid emergence of India as a major automotive powerhouse coupled with the ambitions of China’s automakers to go global are the principal drivers behind the planned entry of China’s big automakers Beiqi Foton and Great Wall Motor.

Foton aims to become a key global player over the next decade, according to its 2020 Strategy statement. Under the truck maker’s “5+3+1” strategy, India is a key region in its growth plan along with Brazil, Mexico, Russia and Indonesia.

This is why Foton signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) with the Maharashtra government in India last April to establish a manufacturing unit at an investment cost of $307 million over 5 years. It is currently in the process of setting up its plant in Chakan (near Pune) to build light-, medium- and heavy-duty commercial vehicles. Continue reading ›

Automakers Change Their Strategy in China Market

Marvin Zhu, a senior analyst with LMC Automotive, who writes for China Automotive Monthly published by J.D. Power Asia Pacific, offers insight about the changing strategies of automakers in China.

Automakers in China are changing their way of thinking in a market that is diversifying. Foreign brands are starting a new campaign to expand capacity.Volkswagen Group is going to set up new plants in Ningbo and Xinjiang, while Nissan Motor Co. will add a Dalian plant for Infiniti. General Motors, Ford, PSA, Hyundai, Honda, BMW and Toyota Groups are all going to have new plants ready for vehicle production in 2012. As these companies’ performance in other markets is expected to be less than robust, the booming Chinese market is much more of a sure bet. Continue reading ›

Risks Apparent as China Remains Preoccupied with Size and Speed

 

Marvin Zhu

China’s government has earmarked a previously unimaginable 2 trillion yuan (about $300 billion) to build the world’s largest national high-speed railway network. So far, only about half of the total planned route distance of 25,000 kilometers (16,000 miles) has been completed. One of the most recent additions to China’s high-speed railway marvel is an express train between Beijing and Shanghai, which opened in June 2011, some two years ahead of schedule.

China’s ambitious “great leap forward” in industrialization and modernization has been understandably making headlines around the globe. However, these glowing platitudes abruptly turned somber on July 23, 2011, when one of the celebrated Beijing-Shanghai high-speed railroad trains crashed, killing 40 people and injuring some 200 others.

While bad weather and a subsequent system failure were found to be the main causes of the crash, some people speculate that the haste with which the railway was built—driven by thought of generating fast profits and political goodwill—should not be overlooked as a mitigating factor. China has been operating for some time on a progressively “build bigger, go faster” agenda, one where safety and reliability are not always given top priority.

Automotive Industry Caught in Bigger, Faster Tailwind

For more than a decade now, the “build bigger, go faster” mantra has prevailed in China’s automotive industry as well. Ever since China supplanted the US as the world’s largest automotive market in 2009, industry players have been in a fierce race to expand. Over the past two years alone, trillions of yuan have been invested in the car-making business, as automakers race to ramp up production. This frenzied expansion is expected to raise China’s vehicle production capacity to 31 million units by 2013, nearly doubling total sales recorded in 2010. Continue reading ›

Saab Exclusive Deal with China’s Hawtai Motor Falls Through

Note: Last week, Saab Automobile AB, owned by Spyker Cars NV, had agreed to produce passenger vehicles in China with Hawtai Motor Group, but this week failed to win approval from China’s authorities. Hawtai will continue to talk about cooperation on a non-exclusive basis, according to media reports. Meanwhile, Reuters reports that China’s Great Wall Motor* is continuing to talk with Spyker Cars about a potential alliance with Saab. Our China expert, Tim Dunne, director of global coordination, offers historical background and fresh insight.

Tim Dunne

From a historical perspective, Sweden’s Saab Automobiles—once one of the world’s most iconic and quirky premium automotive brands—has been drifting somewhat aimlessly for most of the past 20 years.

In 1989, when global automakers could see a shift toward luxury cars emerging—and when new premium brands like Lexus and Infiniti were being launched—General Motors (GM) purchased a 50% stake in Saab for $500 million.

After the acquisition, GM proceeded almost immediately to lose money on the deal, as Saab sales steadily declined from their peak of 187,000 units in 1987. After multiple management shakeups and repeated unsuccessful attempts to find a place for Saab in GM’s global product strategy, the Swedish brand was left mostly to languish, and the financial bleeding at Saab continued for the balance of the decade. Then, for reasons that are not entirely clear, GM bought the remaining 50% share of Saab in 2000, allowing the Big Three domestic automaker to absorb all of Saab’s financial losses, instead of just half of them. Continue reading ›