About a year Editor-in Chief, Ed Niedermeyer, reported that GM and SAIC were discussions about co-operating in the Indian market. Then, in May, our overseas editor, Bertel Schmitt, reported how GM China was going to raid their Chinese line up and sell it in India. I dismissed the developments as the first step in GM being “China-centric”. But today Automotive World reports that Zhang Baolin, President of Chongqing Changan Automobile is having talks with Ford (their western partner in China) about extending their partnership from China to, you guessed it, India. “We have discuss with Ford to use their network to expand overseas, but have not yet come to an agreement yet,” said Zhang Baolin, via Bloomberg News. On the topics’ list are things like whose brand to use and what vehicles will be sold in India.
Now a new scenario is forming in my mind. What if the plan all along was for China to get their partners hooked on profits from Chinese customers (biggest auto market in the world, you know), then elbow their way into their partners’ other ventures in other markets? Their partner does all the hard work of laying an infrastructure in the new market and the Chinese just “ask” to use those facilities in the “spirit of partnership”? China and India have no Free-Trade Agreement, despite years of negotiation, so exporting to India from China is off the cards. But using an existing infrastructure laid down by one your your partners? That makes more sense.