Chinese Government: Our Car Exports Suck

Bertel Schmitt
by Bertel Schmitt

The auto industry and auto exports have top billing in China’s current 5 Year Plan. (Yes, for sentimental reasons, they still have one of those.) Yet when it comes to the car export part, China is still light-years away from fulfilling their master plan. The Vice Director General of the Department of Mechanic, Electronic and Hi-Tech Industry, Ministry of Commerce, made the startling admission. “China’s auto exports are still in the early stage, leaving a large gap in global exports,” Zhou Shijie told Xinhua. Translation: China’s auto exports are in the doghouse of the export powerhouse. “It is difficult for export companies to master the vehicle entry policy in foreign countries.” Translation: Our cars failed miserably in crash tests, we have trouble with pesky U.S. FMVSS and European ECE regulations, which we can barely comprehend (let alone satisfy). We’re fed up and we’re not gonna take it. No, we’re not gonna take it. Uh-oh.

Only fools with think that China will throw in the towel on car exports. Especially not while Western auto makers have trouble staying alive. Mr. Zhou didn’t say that, but it goes without saying. (Although I just said it.) The market weaknesses may be China’s grand opening. Zhou announced that “China’s Ministry of Commerce will take nine measures to support domestic auto companies to enlarge auto exports.” He didn’t elaborate what those measures may be, but it’s a fair assumption that more attention will be given to crash tests, while whole car companies crash in Western markets. And there will be eight measures more. When the auto industry upturn turns up, China’s automotive exports will be back, with a vengeance.

But wait, there’s more: At the same conference where Zhou admitted defeat, Ivan Hodac, Secretary-General of the European Automobile Manufacturers Association (ACEA), said that the European Union expects China to relax. Namely China’s insistence on 50:50 joint ventures for auto makers. They should also relax their CCC regulations, a Chinese addition to the FMVSS/ECE alphabet soup, and widely seen as Chinese water torture to drive foreign importers to tears. Xinhua quotes a faceless “industry expert” who calls Ivan’s demands “excessive.” But there might be a deal in the works.

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  • Bertel Schmitt Bertel Schmitt on Nov 11, 2008

    That video actually has a sub story. It's the infamous "Landwind" video. Test conducted by the ADAC, the German version of the AAA and published shortly before the first Chinese 4WD was to appear at the Frankfurt Auto Show. There were persistent rumors that interested circles in the German auto industry had paid for the test, and that the car was smashed at a higher speed than proscribed in the standard. In a later test, the car did ok, but the damage was done. A similar tragic experience was had by the Brilliance, a car made by BMWs Chinese joint venture partner. Also tested before the auto show. A re-test likewise ok. Nevertheless, a German marketing expert who was asked for an opinion on what to do with the imported Brilliances recommended: "Put them on a boat and set course towards the next hurricane."

  • JEC JEC on Nov 11, 2008

    Who says you don't get what you pay for? Well, unless you are buying a new German car.

  • JMII I know people behind me get POed when I refuse to turn (right or left) depending on traffic. Even my wife will scream "just go already" but I tend err on the side of waiting for a gap that gives me some cushion. It's the better safe then sorry approach which can be annoying for those behind. Oh well.
  • Bobbysirhan Next thing you know, EV drivers will be missing the freedom to travel on their own schedules instead of their cars'.
  • Cprescott I'm not surprised by this behavior - it is consistent with how owners of Honduhs, Toyoduhs, or Mazduhs drive. Without fail, these are the consistently obtuse drivers on the road.
  • MaintenanceCosts Timely question as this happened to me just this morning. The answer was "my kids were engaged in a stupid fight in the back seat." I was trying to drive and keep them from killing each other at once, and I cut off a pedestrian in a crosswalk while making a left turn. Thankfully I wasn't close enough to create serious danger, but it was a jerk driving move.
  • Dave M. "81 million supposedly". Landslide according to some statisticians.