China’s Automakers launch Global Offensive via Emerging Asia

Travel around in China and you will notice all sorts of cars that look similar to those on the streets all over the world, but with different names and badges and logos. Chinese carmakers have thrived in a largely protected market where the established European and American brands had to share technology to get a share of the market.

Is this the Donald? 

Ten years ago, frankly, much of the output of Chinese car factories were a little laughable. Things and times of course change, and many of the top Chinese brands are competing with foreign import quite favourably.

 Not a high point in Chinese car design.

Success at home, though, does not count for much in the new age when China wants to dominate the world. Now it is trying to dominate the world’s car markets and it seems to be starting its push in South Asia’s emerging markets. Bangkok is the centre of South East Asia’s and ASEAN’s car-making industry, and SAIC has already established a factory here to manufacture MGs, that well-known British brand, right? Well, that is how it is being marketed in Thailand, with photos like this:

That ain’t Big Ben…….

It is no half-hearted venture that SAIC has set up with Thailand’s Charoen Pokhand Group either. The new plant will be capable of making 200,000 MGs annually. Geely has also made a few headlines, locally of course, with its purchase of Malaysia’s Proton, an act that caused former Prime Minister, Dr Mahathir, to shed a tear as the country sold off his baby and he “lost his child”. Perhaps Dr M. should have paid more attention to Proton’s school report, which read ‘tried hard but could have done much better’.

The writing on the wall.

Of course Proton is still 50.1% owned by DRB Hicom, or so we are led to believe, and at the signing ceremony for the purchase of 49.9% of the Malaysian national car manufacturer, Li Dong Hui enthused about the love that Malaysians have for the brand and that the Proton brand would live long and prosper, in some Vulcan sense we assume. Li also revealed some very ambitious plans to quadruple annual production to 3 million cars by 2020, with about 500,000 cars being made in Malaysia. Already Proton has announced the first model in the new Geely-owned future, a compact SUV. The speed of the announcement must indicate that DRB Hicom and Geely had sealed the deal long before the announcement was made.

So it is safe to say that after having shut themselves off from the world for so long, the Chinese manufacturers are on their way and consider South Asia to be their backyard. It is hardly surprising either. In 2016, across India and South East Asia, more than 7.4 million cars were sold, not to mention commercial vehicles.

Gui Sheng Yui, CEO of Geely Automotive, recently said, “Geely aims to be a mainstream carmaker in the world so it is not realistic for us to sell in China alone. We need to go abroad and this goal will remain unchanged”. Fighting talk indeed. After shutting themselves up in their own protected domestic market for the best part of two decades, it would seem that Chinese automakers are getting restless and are truly ready to expand.

Coming your way real soon



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