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Several years ago the prospect of seeing Chery cars on our shores appeared imminent, thanks to a deal signed between the Chinese automaker and entrepreneur Malcolm Bricklin.
However the deal fell apart and further plans to market cars in the US, including fledgling deals with Chrysler during its dark Cerberus period have come to nought.
Now, Chery is eying the European market, attempting to market a compact sedan called the Qoros that’s the result of a joint venture with Israel Corp (the Middle Eastern nation’s largest holding company). The Qoros is said to be more upmarket than anything Chery currently produces at home and both companies have ambitious plans, setting initial production targets of 150,000 units a year, with a new factory being constructed near Shanghai to produce the car.
In order to be sold in Europe, the Qoros will have to meet, among other things, NCAP safety standards; a goal has been set of achieving five-star crash status and former Mini design direct Gert Hildebrand has signed up to work on the project, while Austrian company Magna-Steyr is reported to be actively involved.
Whether such ambitions plans will come to fruition remains to be seen, especially in lieu of Chery’s previous failed attempts to infiltrate Western markets and past legal issues, ranging from trademark infringements to shady contract dealings. Nonetheless, if the Qoros does succeed, it just might mark the start of a new era in the automotive business and renewed low price competition in the European marketplace.
[Source: Left Lane News]
Now it appears that GM and SAIC Motor Corp in Shanghai have decided to set up a joint venture to further EV development, with the Pan Asia Technical Automotive Center (PATAC) serving as the hub for development of new vehicle technologies and architecture.
According to an official press release from the General, ‘the agreement will leverage SAIC’s market knowledge and local expertise along with GM’s expertise in electric vehicle development and global know-how. It will ensure local input in the development of electric vehicle technology and the delivery of products developed in China.’
Tim Lee, president of GM’s International Operations believes that this latest joint venture, which builds on partnerships established by the U.S. auto giant and SAIC for 15 years, represents a broad range of benefits made possible by the commitment of the two companies in this venture, as well as representing an “unprecedented level of cooperation.”
Given current political pressure around the world to produce still cleaner, more efficient vehicles, the joint venture between GM and SAIC to develop electric vehicles may seem like a match made in heaven. In China, cars developed from this venture will be sold through SAIC and Shanghai GM, while in other markets both automakers plan to use the architecture to build and market cars and trucks.
However, some industry pundits predict that the partnership will ultimately benefit SAIC more than GM, given that both car makers plan to sell EVs in different markets around the world, which could lead to them competing directly against each other. It’ll be interesting to see how things unfold.
Along with other Japanese automakers, Mazda is predicting a drop in operating profit for 2011, due to a strengthening yen and supply disruptions, which continue to affect production output, following the March 11 earthquake and Tsunami in Japan.
However, the projected forecast in operating profit through March 2012 is slightly better than originally hoped, estimates place it at around some 20 billion yen ($248 million), versus original estimates of 5.6 billion yen predicted by industry analysts. Mazda has also forecast a net operating profit of 1 billion yen for this year, versus a net loss of some 60 billion yen in 2010.
Nevertheless, the Hiroshima based company is looking to diversify its manufacturing base to further increase profitability, with an eye on emerging markets as major centers for potential growth, including Central and South America.
To cater to market needs in this region, the company has announced that, in conjunction with Sumitomo Corporation, it will begin construction of a new assembly plant in the Mexican state of Guanajuato. The plant will produce the Mazda2 and Mazda3 as well as a range of engines.
Once up and running, the plant will have a production capacity of some 140,000 cars annually and will employ approzimately 3,000 people; Mazda will own 70 percent of the venture, Sumitomo the remaining 30 percent.
In addition, both companies will also set up a joint sales venture in Brazil, in an effort to capitalize on that country’s fast growing auto market.
Mazda currently has two thirds of its total vehicle production based in Japan and the rising yen is making its products increasingly uncompetitive overseas (currently 80 percent of total production is exported) as well as eating into profits.
It is hoped that an additional assembly plant outside Japan will help reduce the problem (currently Mazda has three other production facilities outside the home country, in the US, China and Thailand, though all of those were set up as joint ventures with Ford Motor Company).
Upon announcement of the new Mexico factory, Mazda’s shares on the Nikkei (the Tokyo Stock Exchange), spiked some 1.6 percent, out performing the benchmark average, reaching 195 yen per share.