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Despite having made impressive jumps in recent years, the Chinese automotive industry is believed to still be a decade away from being globally competitive.
Despite the majority of auto manufacturers reporting record sales and earnings this year thanks to a healthy Chinese market, the future in China may not be as bright as it was in 2011.
China as a whole is dealing with some tough economic factors with their stock market down, real estate prices dropping and now the prices of luxury cars from German manufacturers Audi, BMW and Mercedes-Benz are selling for way below MSRP. The average price of a 2012 Mercedes-Benz C200 were sold at 16-percent below MSRP at Chinese dealerships, a continual decline from the 14-percent below in October and 3.4-percent below in July. BMW on the other hand, sold their 320i sedan 11-percent below the suggested price, more than triple the initial discount for the 2011 model.
Despite this, Audi posted a 69-percent increase in China deliveries to 29,861 units while BMW had a 9.8-percent increase in sales in China while Mercedes-Benz increased deliveries by 24-percent. But 2011′s growth in China will most certainly not replicate itself in the future to come, which could prove troublesome to many of the manufacturers that are currently undergoing big capacity expansions.
[Source: The Truth About Cars]
General Motors was happy to report that their sales in China during November rose at its fastest pace all year, thanks to deliveries of Wuling light trucks and Buick Excelle sedans. Deliveries to dealers in China last month rose 20-percent (to 237,130) compared to a year ago.
After cutting prices on Wuling light trucks, sales of mini-commercial vehicles and sedans at SAIC-GM-Wuling Automobile Co. jumped 40-percent. GM now has their sight set on passing Toyota in global annual sales. While this was great news for GM, Ford and Honda are both reporting a decline in deliveries last month in China.
Ford’s sales in China fell 7-percent in November to 43,338 units with a 19-percent decline in deliveries at its joint commercial-vehicle venture. Honda on the other hand, sold 58,228 vehicles in China last month which is still 3.3-percent fewer than a year earlier. Overall deliveries decreased by 8.4-percent over the course of this year.
It’s worth noting that overall demand in China has decreased in 2011 compared to 2010, when auto sales surged 32-percent to 18.06 million vehicles. Still, GM is relying on the vastly large Chinese market to offset the continually shrinking European market.
[Source: Automotive News]
GM’s Chinese-market passenger van, the Chevrolet Move N300, is suffering from slow commercial sales. Seeing a potential market for export, the ever-so-resourceful American automaker has decided to deliver 5,000 of these Chinese complete-knock-down van kits to Egypt. While Egyptian import duties has made building vehicles in North America difficult, CKD kits (Complete Knock Down) provides automakers the ability to legally bypass these regulations operations.
According to Shen Yang, the president of SGMW, a three-shareholder joint venture between SAIC Motor Corporation Limited, Liuzhou Wuling Motors Co Limited and GM China, “The introduction of the Chevrolet Move will help SGMW expand market in Egypt and also seek more opportunities to cover the market in North Africa and the Arabia Free Trade Zone. Besides, it also helps SGMW to increase its export volume and further expand the competitiveness of sales and products.”
The Move N300 will complement the existing smaller N200, which is also imported from China, and currently distributed in African markets by GM Egypt. Chevrolet offers a line of vehicles in Egypt, mostly smaller passenger cars from GM’s Korean operation, through its Al-Monsour Automotive Company distributor and partner. Al-Monsour also runs a CKD factory in 6th-of-October City, Egypt.
While currently operating brands Buick, Chevrolet, Cadillac, and Wuling in China, the very first China division GM crossover, the Buick Envision, will come to market next year, according to a report from the Beijing Times Newspaper.
Shanghai GM first introduced the Envision concept at the 2011 Shanghai Auto Show and presented a very progressive shape, further evolving Buick’s design philosophy. A GM representative said, “Envision merges Buick’s global design language with Chinese aesthetics and was designed specifically for the China market.”
The Buick Envision will receive a plug-in hybrid powerplant. To highlight the technology fitted to the vehicle, the Envision’s technology driven interior will feature a futuristic dashboard, flat bottomed steering wheel, an oversized central instrument tunnel and a flat floor to optimize passenger cabin comfort.
Some initial reports indicate the Envision may be built in China and for the Chinese market, but production and sales of the hybrid crossover are expected for other markets as well.
GALLERY: Buick Envision Concept
For the past decade, China’s economy has continued to expand with little sign of slowing down. Volkswagen took advantage of an opportunity to continue offering its past models such as the Volkswagen “Jetta King” (Mk2 Jetta), the Volkswagen Bora Classic (Mk4 Jetta), as well as various Audi vehicles in the Chinese market in order to optimize its foothold.
But Volkswagen is not the only automaker in on the clever, cost-cutting idea. Haima, a Hainan island car company that once had a joint-venture agreement with Mazda, continues to produce the Haima3 (pictured above), simply a rebadged and face-lifted Mazda 323, along with many other past Mazda products under its new management, First Automobile Works.
Those that are familiar with Mazda products can readily identify the Haima Family as a rebadged Mazda Protege and the Haima7 is a tastefully updated Mazda Tribute, itself a rebadged Ford Escape. Even the diagonal “i” in Haima and its emblem boldly draws its design influence from the current Mazda logo.
GALLERY: Haima Family
[Souce: China Car Times]
The Chinese-luxury market segment is continue to grow at an exponential rate. Many new-age Chinese entrepreneurs are affluent and distinguished, looking towards enjoying the finer things in life, which naturally includes automobiles. Many luxury vehicle owners are working hard in penetrating the market in China. Even Porsche debuted the Panamera in Shanghai, knowing how important luxury sedans are to the affluent Chinese. Interestingly enough, French auto manufacturer Citroen is focusing on this segment and attempting to beat out the luxury German manufacturers.
The Citroen Metropolis is longer than a Mercedes-Benz S-Class and wider than a Maybach, two attributes that are actually very important to the affluent Chinese market. And much like the hype of today, the Metropolis is environmentally-friendly with an electric motor powering it at low speeds delivering zero emissions at Shanghai city speeds. For the freeway, a 2.0L V6 contributes 272-hp, and both the electric and V6 engine are able to work together to the harmonious tune of 460-hp.
Suspension-wise, the car floats and ride comfortably with Citroen’s Hydraactive suspension. This system compensates for loads and lowers at higher speeds increasing mpg and aerodynamic efficiency.
For now, the car is just a concept, but we expect to hear more about production details when the Citroen Metropolis officially debuts at the Beijing Auto Show later this month.