AutoGuide News Blog
The AutoGuide News Blog is your source for breaking stories from the auto industry. Delivering news immediately, the AutoGuide Blog is constantly updated with the latest information, photos and video from manufacturers, auto shows, the aftermarket and professional racing.
China is the wild, wild east of the automotive industry. Home to more than 1 billion people and counting, it’s a hugely important market for car companies. There are many domestic brands over there but curiously foreign companies are making significant headway.
Chinese automaker Dongfeng Motor Corporation is reportedly planning to take a 30 percent stake in PSA/Peugeot-Citroen.
Despite having made impressive jumps in recent years, the Chinese automotive industry is believed to still be a decade away from being globally competitive.
Still soldiering toward its goal to regain the world’s top luxury automaker title, Daimler paid 640 million euros for a 12 percent stake in Beijing Automotive Group today.
Johnson Controls, the sole American bidder to U.S. battery maker A123, is appealing the company’s sale to Chinese firm Wanxiang Group.
You’re not alone if you haven’t heard the name Qoros before, that’s because its a newly-formed subsidiary to Chinese automaker Chery.
Just when it seemed Saab would be gone from news headlines for good, Youngman swooped in again to make a bid.
Apparently the company hasn’t given up on getting Saab back up and running. According to Dagens Industri, a Swedish business news organization, the Chinese firm is submitting a £430 million offer, or about $560 million.
They are choosing to make that offer despite GM’s previous sabotage attempts which were meant to keep the company out of Chinese hands. A miniature war was waged last year between Youngman and GM when the American giant decided such a sale would unfairly divulge technology being used in the 9-4X.
Youngman seems unfazed, however, and is continuing their pursuit which will include an additional $520 million being invested. If they actually manage to take the company, they plan to resume production of the 9-3 in April or May.
Last year, Germany’s Daimler AG and the Chinese BYD Auto have formed a 50-50 joint R&D venture called “Shenzhen BYD Daimler New Technology Co. Ltd.” to pursue a new brand that will focus on the development of pure electric vehicles for China.
Now, the two automakers have revealed intentions to introduce a new electric vehicle concept for the upcoming Beijing Auto Show of April next year. The Mercedes-Benz parent company said that the unveiling will demonstrate the concept’s exterior and interior design study, and the brand’s identity, including name, logo, and positioning in the China automotive market.
The Shenzhen BYD Daimler New Technology Co. Ltd. expects to have a prototype up and running for shakedown and testing by the springtime of 2012, and to have it ready for production by 2013.
The IZOD IndyCar Series will be brought to China for the first time in a race scheduled on August 19, 2012.
Held in Qingdao, China, located between Beijing and Shanghai, this coastal city has previously hosted the 2008 Summer Olympic sailing competitions. Until finances can provide for a proper racing circuit to be constructed, a 6.2 kilometer street course will designed for the event for the time being. Unfortunately, the addition to the IZOD IndyCar racing schedule will knock Japan’s Motegi circuit, previously the only race in Asia to hold a major American open-wheel series, off the list.
Motivation for IndyCar’s new schedule for next season has a lot to do with up-and-coming talent, Ho-Pin Tung, the first Chinese racing driver to participate in American open-wheel racing.
After much back and forth over the past months between Swedish Automaker Saab and Chinese suitors Pang Da Automobile Trade Co. and Zhejiang Youngman Lotus Automobile Co., it seems like funding for Saab is very much back. The Chinese companies have both agreed to buy the Swedish automaker, providing the company with some much needed short and long term liquidity.
The details of Pang Da and Youngman’s agreement are an initial commitment of EUR 50 million to fund Saab Automobile while in reorganization. Next, the Chinese investors will then provide at least another EUR 600 million in funding to restart production and to settle the company’s debts and liabilities, allowing the company to concentrate on matters moving forward.
However, the condition that broke the agreement in the past may cause an interference again. This deal can only become a reality if the Chinese government chooses to give its seal of approval.
According to Saab’s restructuring plan, production will resume in Sweden and Mexico while considerations for assembly in China will be addressed as well. Immediate targets for Saab include the introduction of the 9-4X crossover and the 9-5 SportrCombi wagon. Saab aims to sell up to 55,000 vehicles for the year 2012. In 2010, Saab only managed to move 32,000 vehicles.
Pang Da and Youngman are optimistic that Saab has what it takes to become a profitable company. While 2012 will be a transitional year of reconstruction, the Chinese hope that Saab profitability will return for 2014.
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
After more than a year of struggle under Spyker’s management, many thought Saab would have succumbed to its financial woes already, yet somehow the Swedish automaker has been able to pull a few tricks out its bag just as it would seem that its luck had run out.
The latest reports indicate that Saab’s two Chinese suitors, Pang Da Automobile Trade Co. and Zhejiang Youngman Lotus Automobile Co., are aiming to complete an investment deal on Saab by the end of 2011. According to the lawyer of Pang Da Automobile, Peter Goes, “The deal can be closed before the end of the year. They [Pand Da] are most impatient on getting production restarted. The main interest of our client is getting the cars into China.” Getting production restarted is especially crucial as Saab’s Trollhattan assembly plant is currently at a halt due to money owed to their suppliers and workers.
The final obstacle hindering Pang Da and Zhejiang’s $245 million Euro deal is obtaining approval from the Chinese government. As the automotive industry within China balloons, the Chinese government has been reluctant to let it expand much further, at least not without their supervision.
When given the green light, Pang Da and Zhejiang will receive rights to distribute Saabs, and are in development for plans to assemble Saabs in China as well.
There’s something really Chinese about the Volvo Concept You but I just can’t quite put my finger on it. And I’m actually Chinese.
That there is an oriental feel shouldn’t be a surprise. The Concept You is an evolution of the Concept Universe revealed earlier this year at Auto Shanghai earlier this year. Volvo sought the input of a number of potential Chinese customers at the Shanghai show, and a lot of those ideas were carried over into the You.
Volvo is, of course, now part of China’s Zheijiang Geely Motor Holdings, and part of the company’s focus is on capitalizing on the emerging luxury car market in the world’s most populous country.
Surprisingly, large segments of Americans are willing to buy Chinese made cars. Market research company GfK Automotive did its annual Barometer of Automotive Awareness and Imagery, and found that 38 percent of the respondents would consider buying a Chinese car. According to the study, “The openness to purchasing a Chinese and Indian vehicle is highest among Gen Y consumers, with 52 percent saying they are open to a vehicle from a Chinese automaker and 41 percent saying they are open to a vehicle from an Indian automaker.”
Don Deveaux, managing director of Gfk Automotive commented on the issue saying, “When a relatively unknown auto brand enters the market, potential buyers are going to have some initial skepticism without a frame of reference into the company’s history and differentiators from other brands. Quality and repair support are critical factors that potential buyers evaluate before purchasing a new vehicle, and without an established history in the United States, Chinese and Indian manufacturers need to overcome the lack of knowledge of their brands among potential new buyers.”
Currently Chinese automakers suffer from a poor image due to continued promises to offer models in America (which never seem to come to fruition), not to mention numerous poor marks in crash tests. Then again, who cares about safety when you can get a Bentley-styled SUV, like the Huatai B35 above.
[Source: The Truth About Cars]
Saab halted production yesterday at its Trollhattan plant in Sweden after operations were disrupted by problems with supplier deliveries. Saab resumed production on May 27 after shutting down from April to May due to non existent operating capital. Suppliers became worried about receiving payment and stopped supplying the Swedish plant.
Saab began a deal with Chinese car distributor Pang Da Automobile, however that deal is still pending Chinese government approval. Saab’s previous agreement with Hawtai Motor Group fell through because of a lack of approval from Chinese authorities.
Saab is under the impression that its deal with Pang Da will go through however some analysts believe the Chinese government may block the agreement because they want to pursue a different strategy for China’s auto industry. The Chinese government wants China to export cars and become the world’s largest manufacturing base. The government is hoping to consolidate all Chinese automakers into a few brands that can develop to become global car manufacturers like GM and VW.
[Source: World Car Fans]