FCA’s sweater-in-chief Sergio Marchionne has a plan to turn around the debt-laden and ailing automaker: stop building cars that lose money. That sounds like common sense, so long as oil prices stay low and the demand for trucks, SUVs and crossovers remains high.
But that plan introduces a new set of problems, chief among them the fact that ditching the car market leaves FCA exceptionally exposed to future volatility in oil prices. Crude prices affect prices at the pump, which affects the demand for certain types of vehicles. Sergio is betting oil prices will stay low by focusing on vehicles with ever-increasing price tags and ever-growing gas tanks.
Still, there will always be some demand for small cars. It was true in 1950 and it is true today. So what will Mr. Sweater do to meet that demand? Simple: he’ll buy those vehicles from another automaker and badge engineer them the old-fashioned way.
Automotive startup Qoros Auto Company has an interesting business model. Backed with the manufacturing know how of China’s Chery corporation, and the funds of the Israel Corp. holding company, controlled by the Israeli Ofer family, Qoros is designing cars in Europe to be sold in Europe, but built in China.
According the the China Automobile Dealers Association, despite efforts by car makers to reduce inventories, Chinese domestic brand dealers still had 49 days worth of supply in June, a figure that would be considered decent in North America, where two months is the norm. But it’s a matter of concern in China, where normal dealer inventories are 24 to 36 days. That figure is an improvement over the 61 days of supply at the end of May. (Read More…)
Max Warburton and his team. Warburton, of Bernstein Research, assembled a team to interview over 40 auto executives in China (both Chinese and foreign-born) and even bought two Chinese vehicles from Geely and Great Wall. Warburton had them shipped to Europe, where they were taken to a test track, driven extensively and then taken apart by engineers and automotive consultants. And it was far from pretty.
At the Geneva auto show, the long awaited Chinese attack on the embattled European auto market will finally get started in earnest – with the help of German and Austrian engineers, and money from Israel. Qoros is a joint venture partnership between China’s Chery and the Israel Corporation. Qoros wants to be to Chery what Lexus is to Toyota and Acura to Honda. It also wants to be the key that unlocks foreign volume markets. (Read More…)
“If Chinese carmakers will do what they say – and they appear to be utterly committed – then China will soon wallow in a sea of car brands nobody has ever heard of, and nobody will ever be able to remember. Sometimes, it feels as if it is the long-term goal to give each and every of the 1.3 billion Chinese his or her individual car brand.”
A year later, the brand disease claims its first victim, and it is Chery. (Read More…)
Being at odds with its number one trading partner Japan at the moment, China shows that it doesn’t have to be the big bully, and that it can make nice with other former enemies if it feels like it. China gave a surprising regulatory nod to a joint venture between Tata-owned Jaguar Land Rover and Chery. If you think they were long married, then you are right. They said yes a while ago. However, in China, a joint venture is not really a joint venture unless the National Development and Reform Commission (and sundry other bureaucracies) have given their nod, and did put their chop on the contract. (Read More…)
After years and years and years of rumors and premature announcements, Jaguar Land Rover (JLR) has finally, honestly, cross your heart and swear to fry, “finalized a joint venture agreement with Chery Automobile Co to manufacture and sell vehicles in China,” Reuters reports. (Read More…)
Hongqi is the most famous brand in China when it comes to parade cars. In 2008 however, Chery tried to change that with help from the Chinese army and some astronauts. The Eastar parade car debuted in April 2008 and was used for a very special military parade. Or more like a parade of parades. (Read More…)
China’s assault on the auto markets of the west may have been delayed another five years, but Australia is going to be the canary in the coal mine. The first mature Western-style market to see any significant imports of Chinese vehicles, led by the Chery J1, is adapting to a new era of low-cost, low-content cars. And it seems that the Chinese OEMs are right to be waiting for future generations of vehicles, as the J1 seems unlikely to make even the impact that Hyundai’s departed Excel made. One reason: safety. Or lack thereof. Hit the the jump to see what we’re on about. (Read More…)
What looks like a Chinese-Japanese matter should cause considerable heartburn in Sweden and the Netherlands: The Chinese government has informed Fuji Heavy Industries Ltd. that it will not approve the automaker’s application to set up a joint venture in China, says Japan’s Yomiuri Shimbun. Let’s take a closer look. (Read More…)