As China continues its rise to prominence with its growing middle class, you can expect more and more Chinese companies to make an impact worldwide. Despite all of its recent economic achievements, China does not have many globally-established brands, as they are known for their manufacturing prowess instead.
Up until now, Chinese car companies have focused on selling vehicles solely to those in China, rather than the rest of the world. And with approximately 1.4 billion people in China, who can blame them? But things are changing now and 2015 has been seeing the emergence of global Chinese auto manufacturers that are trying to make an impact in other parts of the world, including the United States.
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Since most people are unfamiliar with these brands, here’s a primer:
First emerging in 2003, BYD Auto is the biggest and most advanced manufacturer of electric vehicles in China. Its initials standing for “Build Your Dreams,” it also is considered to be one of the biggest creators of phone batteries. Even Warren Buffet is a fan, as in 2008, his Berkshire Hathaway Inc. bought 10% of the company for $230 million.
In 2014, they opened a factory in Lancaster, California for the purposes of manufacturing electric buses. However, so far, they have not experienced much success, as there is a lack of interest and demand on the part of Americans at this time. Nonetheless, they are an ambitious company with big goals.
Shanghai Automotive Industries Corp.
Holding the distinction of being the largest automaker in China, it is also state-owned. It is the manufacturing partner of General Motors and Volkswagen AG, as both companies have to work with SAIC based on Chinese law in order to sell vehicles in the country. While General Motors and Volkswagen have prospered, as they both sold over 1 million vehicles in 2014, SAIC has faced criticism from its own government. Despite the revenues that they bring in through their partnerships, the Chinese government wants them to produce their own original brands, which has proved to be a money-losing venture so far.
Dongfeng Motor Corp.
Another state-owned company in China, it has partnerships with Nissan Motor Company, Honda Motor Company, and PSA Peugeot Citroen from France. In addition, it also produces its own original trucks and buses. Because of its partnerships with Japanese brands, it has experienced some difficulties in the previous year as consumers have switched to buying more European brands instead. Nonetheless, it has an ownership stake in Peugeot and looks to expand its domestic Chinese offerings soon.
Great Wall Motors Ltd.
It came into prominence in 2013 due to an explosion in the sales of its original SUVs in China. But since then, it has seen declining sales domestically. However, it is also perhaps the biggest exporter of automobiles in China. Its Haval lineup of SUVs are sold in South Africa, Russia, Italy, and a couple other developing countries. It has been criticized in China, though, for not being innovative enough and perhaps overpricing itself out of the market.
Geely Holding Co.
Geely is notable for being an independently-owned Chinese auto brand, rather than being state-owned. In fact, it is perhaps a sign of the future of the Chinese auto industry. Rather than forcing global companies to become its partner in order to sell vehicles in China, it has outright purchased Volvo Cars. It still creates its own original lineup, including the Gleagle and Englon. It is also a groundbreaking company in that it has shipped Chinese-made Volvos to the United States in 2015, which is a first.
Time will tell how successful Chinese brands are in introducing automobiles into the United States. They certainly have their work cut out for them with the immense amount of competition present!
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