China car times
Taiyuan is the sort of city that is lost in name to the much larger Beijing that is situated to its north, but Taiyuan is no slouch when it comes to economic development. Over the past decade Taiyuan has seen massive growth on the back of its rich mineral deposits, mostly coal, in the region which has lead to a building boom which in result led to a car ownership boom.
Like most cities, Taiyuan was woefully unprepared for the Chinese automotive age and has found its city turning into a parking lot at each hour of peak traffic. The city mayor sent out an urgent message earlier today asking the cities residents to use public transport and bicycles instead of their cars to alleviate the traffic issue that has seen the cities main bridge turn into a slow moving car park.
Foton apaprently have big plans for the Indian market, not only does Beijing based company have plans to build a factory in India for commercial vehicles, they are also planning to launch their range of pick up trucks in India as well.
Our colleagues over at the famous Indian Autos Blog spotted the Tunland pick up truck rolling down the streets of Pune where the mid size truck is undergoing testing. The Tunland is a Toyota Hilux sized truck that boasts a Cummins diesel engine and also a Mitsubishi gasoline engine with both using AWD and RWD systems with a 5 speed manual gearbox that offers low and high ratio gear boxes.
The Tunland was developed with international markets in mind, so to see the truck in India comes as no surprise especially as the company has considerable plans for India.
According to Western media reports a ‘dream team’ of VL Automotive and WanXiang have teamed up to make a bid on the bankrupt US car maker Fisker and are due to make a bid soon.
VL Automotive is headed a former GM executive, Bob Lutz, who is widely known to be a true petrol head, Wanxiang are also a major leader in the Chinese automotive business and have been inreasingly looking towards EV technology with key purchases such as A123 battery systems.
The two companies have already made an offer to buy Fisker through a pre-arranged bankruptcy deal, although exact details of which have not yet been revealed to the press. Fiskers substantial US government debt is likely to prove a difficult stepping stone in the takeover of the company, but with VL Automotive’s industry knowledge and Wanxiang’s deep pockets, it is clear that a solution could be found.
Ssangyong’s Deputy CEO Mr. Wang Zhi Hong announced during an interview session with Chinese media earlier today that Ssangyong are aiming to have production within China in the next five years according to Chinese media reports. With Ssangyong moving from being SAIC owned to Mahindra owned, the Korean company has to restart its Chinese plans, despite the Chinese SUV market being exceptionally strong Ssangyong has failed to make a big dent in the market. According to Mr. Wang’s own observation, Ssangyong’s lack of traction in the Chinese market is due to Ssangyong’s strength in diesel engines, which are not always at the top of Chinese consumers shopping list.
SAIC’s controlling share in Ssangyong was lost when the company entered into bankruptcy and was subsequently sold to India’s Mahindra, Ssayong’s troubles in China did not start with the Chinese owner but instead with the Korean workers who often went on strike, leading to a lack of product in the Chinese market and also lead to dealers pulling out the network, decapitating the once 70 strong dealership network.
Ssangyong are now working hard to rebuild their Chinese image, the new Korando SUV has already proven to be popular in first and second tier cities where Ssangyong has dealerships, however an improved vehicle lineup is going to be needed if Chinese consumers are to take on the ‘Double Dragon‘ once more. Ssangyong’s goals for 2013 are modest, in 2012 they sold 13,000 vehicles but in 2013 they want that to increase to 20,000 and then 30,000 and 35,000 by 2015 with a minimum of 150 dealerships by the end of 2013, a considerable increase from the 80 or so dealers they currently have.
Mr. Wang did not reveal any potential partners or even company’s that Ssangyong are in discussions with regarding Chinese production of Ssangyong vehicles.
It has been rumored for some while that JAC are planning to create a rear wheel drive SUV that will be focused on the luxury segment, what we didn’t know was that the new SUV would take some styling cues from the master of luxury: Mercedes Benz.
The SUV pictured above has been codenamed the P241 within JAC Group and is sitting on a RWD platform that can switch its front wheels on when required. The new SUV is still at the codename stage but that codename is likely to change to the JAC P7 to sit above the P5 SUV which has only just been launched, the P5′s 2.0T might be a little on the small side for this new hulking Benz inspired beast so we could potentially see something a little bigger and more than likely a diesel engine taken from JAC’s vast range of MPV’s.
A potential launch date is still unclear, but expect an end of year launch.
FAW’s Besturn brand launched its first SUV last week under the X80 name and promised more SUV’s were in the pipeline. The X80, along with other Besturn vehicles is based on Mazda architecture via FAW’s partnership with Mazda where several Mazda models are currently produced.
The Besturn X80 is priced from 119,800RMB to 181,800RMB with 2.0L and 2.3L engines from the Mazda range, both automatic and manual gearboxes are being offered – an unusual move in the Chinese market where manufacturers like to launch first with a manual and then later with an automatic.
Besturn’s sales director, Mr. Zhang Shao Jun was quoted as saying the X80 is being aimed at the Honda CRV, Hyundai ix35 and Kia Sportage, other smaller and larger SUV’s are also reportedly in the works and will launch in due time. Mr. Zhang did not mention any sales goals for the X80 but he believes that the market will dictate where FAW will take the brand over the next few years.
According to a recent report in China Financial Report, Volvo’s plans to bring their new Chengdu plant online by June maybe at risk of delay.
In 2010 when Geely bought Volvo, the first step was to bring Volvo to the Chinese market to boost global sales with the first Chinese factory being announced to be settled in Chengdu under the name of Zhong-Jia Automotive (Chengdu) Automotive Production with a registered capital of 500 million RMB.
Journalists were able to visit the Chengdu factory unimpeded by a non existent security and found that the factory did not appear to be ready to produce the China only S60L for the Chinese market, and also noted that the welding, painting and production areas were not yet completed.
Volvo is a major sponsor of the Asia Fortune Forum and is expected to open the new factory during the forum period due to visits from leading industry people and also high level executives from Volvo Sweden.
The new factory will have a capacity of 200,000 cars per year in its first phase with the factory opening in June but with full scale production thought to have been pushed back until October 2013.
GAC’s big brand aspirations seem to going to plan, perhaps slower than expected but certainly on track. The state owned corp bought the last generation Alfa Romeo 166 platform which it quickly recycled and redeveloped it into a handsome midsize sedan and then an SUV with the SUV becoming a strong seller. Next up to obtain the Alfa DNA is this new GA3 sedan which seems to muster Volvo style into GAC’s very own design language at the front but runs into trouble at the rear with the ‘bubble butt‘ style and strange transparent rear lights.
The GA3 has already been shown at the Shanghai Auto Show where it was on stage in a red dress, this early run production version shown above in white shows that the concept shown in Shanghai is not too distant from the production version. Engine power will come from a 1.5L naturally aspirated engine and possibly even a 1.3T that is currently in development. A years end launch in Guangzhou Auto’s backyard at the Guangzhou Auto Show is more than likely, pricing is reportedly from 80,000RMB and rising.
The MG5 arrived in concept form in early 2011 and give us a taste of what a compact MG might look like, sadly the MG5 didn’t live quite up to MG’s sporting expectations thanks to a soft ride and a weak engine. The forthcoming MG5 with a 1.5T and a dual clutch will likely live up to all that is required from any car that carries the MG label. The turbo assisted 5 will likely carry this new corporate face from MG that was spotted late last week in China.
We initially thought the MG5 turbo would have aired at the Shanghai Auto Show last month but it seems the turbo will have to wait until later this year before it rears its (possible) new head.
I test drove the MG5 last year and was instantly let down – how could such a car carry the MG badge? It seems that AutoCar are in agreement. The UK magazine cites the noisy underpowered engine as one of their main beefs with the Five but give the 5 credit for having a much improved interior with good fit and finish.
To make this car competitive in the UK market would take a great deal of work, although it must be said that the firm’s parent company, SAIC, is already making great strides in its powertrain development, and has a proven track record with the MG 6 for making a sweet riding and handling car.
Furthermore, we would urge some caution before laying in to MG; this car did not feel entirely right, the test venue was far from perfect. Perhaps it’s fairest of all to wait until we get the opportunity for a full road test before drawing too many conclusions.
In what was a busy day for ZX Auto, the company signed a factory sharing deal with Guangzhou Auto (GAC) which will see GAC use ZX Auto’s spare capacity in Yichang city for commercial vehicle production, the facility has a total production capacity of 450,000 vehicles per year which is far greater than what ZX Auto actually needs as a small scale pick up truck and SUV manufacturer.
ZX Auto’s AUV rolled down the production lines in Yichang city earlier today as well, the mini trucklet does not actually go on sale until late June but the company held a Start of Production (SOP) Ceremony to introduce the media to the new car and ZX Auto’s production capacity. The AUV stands for Activity Utility Vehicle and comes at a time when ZX Auto is aiming to have a Great Wall Motors moment as it turns from relying solely on trucks and SUV’s to smaller hatchback like models.
The AUV measures in at (LxWxH) 4120mm x 1761 x 1645 with a wheelbase of 2500mm, it has ground clearance of 182mm which seems to be a good figure for urban driving. Power comes from an off the shelf Mitsubishi 4A91 1.5L series engine, the unit produces 141Nm of torque when paired with a 5 speed manual gearbox. Pricing hasn’t yet been announced but we suspect it will be in the low 60,000rmb range to get people more interested in the ZX Auto brand.
Geely are planning to push their sub brands hard this year, the Emgrand brand has already proven itself to be a popular brand with Chinese consumers as has the Gleagle but the Gleagle is lacking somewhat in terms of products. This year the economy brand focused Gleagle range will receive the below GV5 MPV:
The GV5 is a compact seven seat home use MPV that will carry a 1.3T engine to help it pack a torque punch, manual gearboxes are shown in the spy shots but we suspect that automatic offerings will be offered later, the GV5 might also come with a 1.5L naturally aspirated engine.
With a 1.3 billion population there are bound to be plenty of accidents and emergencies within Chinese borders that require the assistance of firefighters, now firefighters in China can make use of American KME’s trucks.
KME, or Kovatach Mobile Equipment Corp are a Pensylvania based company that have looked beyond the domestic US market for new sales and have partnered with Brilliance China Automotive Holdings to establish a new JV to supply the Chinese market. The new JV was officially announced at the China Fire Expo 2013 earlier this month where the company received a reported 80 orders for a combination of 80 pumpers and tankers.
Initially KME product trucks will be imported into China but eventually will see Chinese production, the new JV with Brilliance will create a 31,000 square meter facility in Dalian Economic Zone with work starting in July, initial production is set to be just 100 vehicles but this will be ramped up to 300 to 500 by the fifth year.
KME is focusing itself on developing fire trucks that are capable of tackling fires in high rise buildings, pinning its experience on its experience in tackling fires in compact high rise cities such as New York and Chicago. High rise fires have become a major concern in China after the major boom in construction from the year 2000 onwards, high rise apartment blocks and skyscrapers have become commonplace in even China’s smallest cities, these buildings are often out of the reach of China’s current firetrucks.
Volkswagen is to invest 12 billion yuan (1.95 billion USD) to build a new plant in Changsha, Central China, along with its partner Shanghai Auto Industry Corp. The scope and size of the new facility was confirmed today during the official signing of the new facility, Volkswagen senior executives, Hunan Provincial and Changsha city officials were present to view the signing. The new plant was will initially have output of 300,000 units in the first initial phase that can be expanded later and should be online in 2015.
After focusing on the Chinese North, East and South, VW are finally looking to the West of China to further push sales in the worlds largest auto market as the company fights with its arch rival GM for sales figures in the Chinese market. The contract between SH-VW and Changsha City leaders was signed at a ceremony earlier today and work commencing on the new factory as early as Thursday this week.
Volkswagen are pushing to open ten new factories this year around the world, with seven of those factories landing in China. Volkswagen will create new factories in Urumqi, Foshan and Ningbo, new parts factories will also come online in Changchun and Foshan later this year. Volkswagen’s Chinese total production capacity is currently 2.6 million vehicles per year, but VW aims to expand this figure to 4 million units by 2018 with average annual growth aiming to be around 35% each year
SAIC are planning to follow in the steps of regional rivals Geely and Chery with an increased impetus on international sales, SAIC has already introduce the Roewe 750 into Egypt with a local partner which will go into production on June 19th this year.
SAIC also have plans for a Thailand plat to facilitate sales in the South East Asian and Middle Eastern markets with initial production capacity reaching 50,000 units with plans to increase it to 20,000. SAIC’s international sales are still relatively small but the company does have large expectations to expand sales by 20% in 2013.
Since the launch of the Baojun brand and its first 630 sedan news from the sub brand from GM and SAIC has gone quiet, now we have learned that BaoJun are prepping a new SUV for the Chinese market. The new SUV will be based on the Baojun 630′s platform and will continue to use the existing Baojun style language. Currently the Baojun uses 1.5L and 1.8L engines, the new SUV will likely continue to use the same engines and the same gearbox. Baojun are also planning to introduce small displacement turbo engines in the near future, in addition a compact MPV will also join the Baojun line up after the introduction of the MPV.
French press / Presse française
- Microsoft séduit Fiat et le chinois Qoros avec son système embarqué d'info-divertissement
- PSA fixe son rendez-vous compétitivité au 29 mai
- PSA va fermer son site de Meudon en 2014
- PSA veut céder le site tertiaire de Meudon, pas de suppression d'emplois envisagée
- L’usine Renault de Douai se modernise pour produire cinq nouveaux modèles
English Press / Presse anglaise
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