As if it’s not enough that Chinese buyers shy away from Japanese cars due to disputes over some rocks in the East China sea, Japanese cars find themselves under attack from a surprising foe: Chinese cars. Chinese cars were the big winner of the anti-Japanese row, and now The Nikkei [sub] has a downright frightening report from the inside of one of the most successful Chinese automakers, Great Wall:
“Great Wall Motor Co. has recently emerged as a stellar local automaker. At its head office in Baoding, Hebei Province, about two hours from Beijing, workers in navy-blue uniforms have taken to heart the company’s slogan: “Catch up with Japanese and South Korean rivals.”
The company’s regimented approach to production is modeled on China’s People’s Liberation Army, which has a base in Baoding. At the plant, workers must walk in single file when they move from place to place in groups of more than three.
It also imposes strict cost controls. For example, the elevators at its 16-story headquarters only stop on the eighth, 13th and 16th floors; employees on other floors must take the stairs. And lighting in the stairwells and the main entrance is switched off to save electricity.”
Great Wall has become famous for quality cars at reasonable prices. It sold 380,000 in January-October, up 35 percent, while China’s auto market as a whole was flat. The odd part: The military-style company is privately owned. At the same time, government-owned carmakers in China affect a more urbane and relaxed pose, which they pick up from their foreign joint venture partners.