You may recall that the possibility of building Jeeps in China (something that actually started decades ago when the brand was owned by American Motors) became an issue in last year’s U.S. presidential election campaign. According to reports in Chinese media, the Fiat and Guangzhou Automobile groups have reached a tentative agreement to assemble Jeeps in the companies’ joint venture Changsha factory in central China. (Read More…)
China has become an area of tremendous potential for companies as the nominally communist country has embraced capitalism. The hybrid result, according to Ford CEO Alan Mulally, is in some ways an improvement on what’s been a pretty sluggish and inefficient democratic process elsewhere in the world.
General Motors isn’t the only Detroit based car company posting record sales in China, the world’s largest and fastest growing market for cars and light trucks. After GM reported that July sales in China were over 200,000 units for the first time (including all of GM’s various joint ventures there), Ford also announced that they are having record sales in China for the first six months of 2013.
Automotive imports to China were down 11% in the first six months of 2013, to 526,000 cars, according to China’s largest import dealer group. That wasn’t the only bad news luxury car importers got.
July sales reports are in from China and GM and its JV partners did well while Toyota, Honda and Mazda were down. GM and its Chinese partners sold 221,580 vehicles last month, up 11% from last July, based on strong Buick sales, which were up 26% to 66,208. The two marques GM is trying to turn into global brands, Cadillac and Chevrolet, had mixed results with Cadillac up 83% to 3,688 vehicles and Chevy down slightly, 3%, at 43,343 units.
GM’s microvan enterprise, SAIC-GM-Wuling Automobile Co., a joint venture with SAIC and the Liuzhou government in Southwest China, sold 98,380 Wuling-brand microvans in China, up 5 percent from 2012 and that venture’s Baojun compact sedans were up 300%, selling 6,302 units of that recently launched brand.
Stefan Jacoby, whose most recent job was CEO of Volvo, has been hired by General Motors to head their international operations. Jacoby replaces Tim Lee who is slated to become chairman of GM China as that unit is split off from the rest of GM International. Lee will continue to head global manufacturing for the Detroit based automaker. The business unit that Jacoby will be running will still have operations in more than 100 markets in Africa, Asia Pacific and the Middle East.
Fuji Heavy Industries, the Subaru’s corporate parent, had a 400% increase in operating profit due to strong U.S. sales for that brand. North American sales for Subaru in its largest market were up 30% to 116,000 unites in the quarter just ended. Fuji’s operating profits were 69.64 billion yen ($739.6 million), up from 17.33 billion yen ($184.05 million) last year, a record for quarterly profits for that company. (Read More…)
The Chinese Ministry of Environmental Protection’s rejection of BMW’s application to expand one of their factories is generating concern that global automaker will find it harder to win approval for their own Chinese projects.
Suzuki and VW don’t seem ready to officially call it quits just yet. The two companies are still talking, with both sides continuing to see positives in what was to be a partnership on small cars and Suzuki’s domination of emerging markets.
Senior management from both sides, including Osamu Suzuki, are currently in talks to revive the partnership as it could help Suzuki spread their R&D costs over multiple products and give them access to VW technology. Volkswagen wants a greater foothold in India and China, where Suzuki has been wildly successful, a stark contrast to their presence in North America. If talks fail, the courts have some decisions to make.
Bentley Motors today has confirmed that a fourth model will join the Bentley lineup, this one a SUV, and that it will be built at the British luxury car maker’s Crewe plant starting in 2016 after a £800 million ($1.228 B USD) investment in the facility. The automaker says that over 1,000 new jobs will be created to manufacture the unnamed SUV, which is said to look nothing like the widely criticized EXP 9F concept shown last year. A very basic sketch of the planned vehicle was also released. The company said that Bentley customers have responded “extremely” positively to the idea of a SUV that wears the winged B and claims that the car will be “a thoroughbred Bentley” and have styling that sets “it apart from any other SUV on the road”. Like the company’s Continental models which are related to the Audi A8 and Volkswagen Phaeton, though, the new Bentley SUV will likely share a platform and components with other VAG vehicles.
Bentley press release below. (Read More…)
Both General Motors and the Volkswagen group can claim bragging rights after Chinese sales results for June have been announced. VW outsold GM for the month, 262, 700 units to 236,207, but GM was still ahead for the first six months of 2013 with 1.57 million units sold compared to 1.54 million for VW.
A report in Automotive News Europe (courtesy of Bloomberg) highlights just how much growth potential there is for BMW in China. Karsten Engel, BMW’s top man in China told the outlet
“Strong growth in future will come from the smaller cities, and the strong growth will also come especially from the western region…There are 100 cities with more than a million inhabitants in China with no premium car dealers at all, so this shows the huge potential we’re having in this country,” he said in an interview in Beijing.
Put another way: in 1994, BMW sold 800 cars annually in China. Now, they sell about 900 per day.
Renault hopes to get going on its foray into China, and to sign a joint venture agreement with Dongfeng, Reuters says. “We are waiting for an official invitation from the Chinese industry ministry,” Reuters heard from an insider. Rumors of an impending JV kept Chinese media guessing and speculating for years. (Read More…)