China seeks a place among automotive “superpowers” image

The country is the second largest economy in the world, the second biggest luxury auto market on the planet and the leading auto market on Earth. But it also wants to become one of the automotive production superpowers, and wants to achieve that status quickly.

Automotive assembly facilities already make up the most part of the vehicles being sold in China, but the country has been largely left out of the global process of manufacturing – as internal demand has been jumping by double-digit percentages for years. Now, as the sales settle at a more mature, low single digit percentage growth rate, China’s major carmakers want to spread their “wings” abroad. “We are trying to transform ourselves, to make manufacturing in China a superpower,” commented Cheng Hong, the editor-in-chief of China Central Television, while attending the Global Automotive Forum in Chongqing. The central government is all in on that strategy as it has orchestrated the “Made in China: 2025” plan. Though the initiative raises concerns about the state’s bid to take second-tier players such as SAIC, Geely, Chery and BYD, and morph them to achieve dominance.

That left many observers and analysts wondering what would be the status of foreign companies, such as Volkswagen or General Motors, which are the leading automakers today. While the state and local automakers push the Chinese automotive manufacturing industry, there are other warnings. For example, quality is one of the major challenges for domestic producers – which relegated them to a position of entry-level offers. The first true test – Volvo’s export of the Chinese-made S60L sedan to the United States.