By on December 18, 2008

Are you in automotive R&D? Experience and successful track record in automotive marketing? Worried about your job? Polish up your resume. Chinese automakers are hiring. “After considering the risk of buying US auto manufacturers’ assets, Chinese automakers realized that targeting their research and development (R&D) talent would be a more realistic and profitable option,” writes China Daily today.

China Daily called around. Zeng Qinghong, General Manager of Guangzhou Automobile Group, for instance said that his company is not interested at all in buying brands or whole companies in the U.S.A. However, he’s very interested in US auto professionals. The head of his research center had already been on a recruitment trip to the US, and he was surprised: “Interest shown by US auto talents in Guangzhou Auto exceeded expectations.” Xu Heyi, board chairman of Beijing Automotive Industry Corp said that they are also interested in talent from the US. Even the Chinese government is prodding their auto industrialists to buy themselves some foreign know-how.

Says China Daily: “In recent years, China’s auto industry experienced a rapid annual growth of over 20 percent. However, a shortage of technical experts and high level management executives became a bottleneck for the growing industry. A capable auto R&D engineer in the US typically has eight to ten years of experience in the industry, while higher education for professional R&D experts in China is still a thing of the future.”

Shanghai Securities News finds a fly in the ointment: Money. They figure, the annual after tax wages of an auto engineer with ten years of R&D experience in the US is between $120,000 and $140,000, “a salary Chinese auto manufacturers are not able to afford.” Not true. I happen to know what joint ventures pay for top talent, and it’s way above that. Add to this the perks of a serviced apartment, a live-in maid that charges you $200 a month if you pay a lot, cost of living way below the US, and the prospects look quite interesting. If you are single, half of China will want to marry you. If you are married, your wife won’t want to go home where she has to cook and make her husband do the dishes. Life in Guangzhou, Shanghai, or Beijing would definitely be better than in Detroit. Just don’t let them lure you to the smaller cities inland. You’d go bonkers.

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25 Comments on “China Wants To Drain Some Detroit Brain...”


  • avatar
    improvement_needed

    not to mention home leave…

  • avatar
    no_slushbox

    At least there are still some automakers that still respect engineers.

  • avatar
    mcs

    Not a bad strategy. They could build engineering centers here as well. Building space in Auburn Hills should be plentiful and cheap soon – maybe even cheaper than in China. Other Asian manufacturers have engineering centers here, so it’s been done before.

    The airlines seem to have anticipated this and I think are still planning to offer non-stops between China and DTW starting this Spring.

    The bottom line is that if you work for one of the Detroit companies, get a copy of Rosetta Stone Mandarin and start studying.

  • avatar
    montgomery burns

    mcs:

    Yes that’s the way I think they are going too. China doesn’t need any manufacturing in the US, what they need is engineering. I’d think that’s where the comment about salaries came from.

    I’d bet the Chinese would be very interested in getting a tech center to engineer cars for the NA market that would be built in China.

  • avatar
    Raskolnikov

    What an attractive offer!! “Come work in China, where you can only access 1/3rd of the internet!”

  • avatar

    The bottom line is that if you work for one of the Detroit companies, get a copy of Rosetta Stone Mandarin and start studying.

    Not needed. One, you’ll never learn it. Two, speaking Mandarin is bad for your image as a true longnosed lao wei. I’ve lived here for 4 years and barely can direct the taxi driver to take me home. Which wasn’t a shock to me, because I had the same experience in New York … They’ll assign a cute translator to you …

  • avatar
    crackers

    China will hire US talent just long enough to teach native Chinese what they need to know. Once the knowledge is transferred, it is bye-bye to the expensive, primadonna US talent

  • avatar
    NN

    Life in China is really not so rosy. My wife and I lived a year in Shenzhen. Pretty miserable place; only salvaged by the fact that Hong Kong (tremendous) is right over the border. Bertel is right about the women, though…many will want to marry you on the spot. The sad thing was that many of the American men in the group that went over there with me were seemingly there to take advantage of that only.

  • avatar

    Life in China is really not so rosy.

    I had a duplex on Park Avenue. Waterfront home in the Hamptons. My wife comes from a snotty Tokyo family. We both love it in Beijing. A lot has changed in the 4 years I’ve been living here.

  • avatar
    mcs

    Not needed. One, you’ll never learn it.
    You know, you’re absolutely right. I have learned Western European languages very quickly (and forgotten them even faster) when I had to work in those countries. But I’ll be in trouble with the Asian (and probably Eastern European as well) languages if I ever have to learn one. They are so different.

    Life in China is really not so rosy.
    I remember female co-workers totally freaking out over the bathrooms in China back in the late nineties. There was also a consensus that the Southern Cities were much friendlier than the North. Never had the chance to go myself.

  • avatar
    Robstar

    I don’t know if you could pay me enough to make a life in China, esp with their internet censorship.

  • avatar
    Edward Niedermeyer

    I loved Beijing when I was there, although from what I’ve heard about Shenzhen I could see myself not enjoying life there as much. Still, could it be any worse than Detroit? I, for one, would consider relocating to China for work. As Bertel says, the cost of living makes things much easier for the well-compensated laowai. Great food, nice people and a real sense of constant historical change make China a fascinating place for those who are willing to put up with some of the tricky aspects. Like giving directions to cabbies.

    Interestingly, the bathrooms at LAX were worse than anything we saw in a month in China. At least in Beijing you can follow the handy bathroom “star rating” system. Anything rated four stars or better will be on par with western offerings. And pit toilets are fine once you get used to them.

  • avatar
    billc83

    I, for one, am excited about anything that could eventually give me access to unlimited almightyness…

  • avatar

    I had a duplex on Park Avenue. Waterfront home in the Hamptons. My wife comes from a snotty Tokyo family. We both love it in Beijing. A lot has changed in the 4 years I’ve been living here.

    Who needs anything like free speech, freedom of religion, a free press? Compared to a cheap live in maid or a cute translator what are a few freedoms?

    Imagine what would happen if someone tried throwing a shoe at the Party Secretary.

  • avatar
    gimmeamanual

    My flight for Shanghai leaves Jan 1 for my 3-yr tour. I couldn’t be more excited!

  • avatar
    mtypex

    The Chinese will merely chop your head off, or at least kick you around. The Japanese can only ban you from fish markets and their day spas.

    I don’t care for snobby Tokyo people any more than snobby NYC, LA, London, or Paris types.

    Cantonese are much more friendly/commercial than the Chinese of the north.

    There might be some justification for southern auto assembly plants in this comment, but I’m no Bob Corker.

    Bottom line on China: when you roll around in the mud fighting the hogs, you get dirty, and the pig likes it.

  • avatar

    At least there are still some automakers that still respect engineers.

    Alan Mulally, CEO of Ford Motor Company
    B.S., 1967, and M.S., 1969, aeronautical and astronautical engineering, University of Kansas

    Frank Klegon, Exec. VP Chrysler, Product Development
    B. S., Electrical Engineering, Wayne State University, 1977

    PS. Don’t blame Frank for the Sebring, Compass and Nitro, they were already in the pipeline when he took the job in Sept. ’05. Before he was in charge of product, he headed Chrysler’s BOF efforts and the Ram is a pretty good truck. It always surprises me how Trevor Creed gets a free pass for all the disasters he signed off on.

  • avatar

    Great food, nice people and a real sense of constant historical change make China a fascinating place for those who are willing to put up with some of the tricky aspects. Like giving directions to cabbies.

    Or worshiping in a manner not approved by the Party.

  • avatar
    Edward Niedermeyer

    Or worshiping in a manner not approved by the Party.

    Wow, that’s some tasty bait. Look, I love rights the way a fat kid loves cheese. Which is why I’m so hesitant to add anything like nuance to your unimaginative preconceptions. Because that would make me an apologist, right?

    China is ridiculously hard to generalize about. The scope of history, economy, culture, population, etc there makes it very difficult for an American to relate to. Especially when it’s so much easier to fear and despise them for ignoring the very values our own nation now appears to be abandoning.

  • avatar

    I’m sorry if I fail to see nuance in the notion of state approved churches. Perhaps those involved with the Falun Gong might have a better perspective on those nuances.

    I realize that to some I’m a simplistic and simpleton American, with no conception of what it’s like to be part of an ancient culture with thousands of years of history. I’m also, though, a member of a culture that, like China, dates to the second millennium BCE. A culture that has had contact with a broad variety of other cultures, including, by the way, China which was actually more tolerant to our diversity than most of those cultures. I think that gives me some kind of perspective that takes in the broad sweep of history.

    I don’t despise the Chinese, nor do I fear them. I just calls ’em the way I sees ’em.

  • avatar
    mpc220

    China is ridiculously hard to generalize about. The scope of history, economy, culture, population, etc there makes it very difficult for an American to relate to. Especially when it’s so much easier to fear and despise them for ignoring the very values our own nation now appears to be abandoning.

    You’re wasting your breath. For a lot of keyboard jingoists, anything less than constant chants of “USA! USA!” is tantamount to treason.

  • avatar

    ROTFLMFTO, I was waiting for someone to use the J word.

    Xenophobe, jingoist. Perhaps someone will now call me an ugly American and hit the trifecta.

    “Compared to Europeans and Asians, Americans are rank amateurs when it comes to racism.”
    – Lewis R. Lancaster. Professor Emeritus, Department of East Asian Languages and Cultures, Univeristy of California, Berkeley

    Jingo
    Jingo
    Jingo
    Jingo Ba
    Lo
    Ba, Ba, Lo
    Ba, Ba, Lo
    Ba, Ba, Lo
    Ba, Lo
    Ba, Ba, Lo
    Ba, Ba, Lo
    Ba, Ba, Lo
    Ba
    Jingo
    – Carlos Santana

    The ChiComs have got things pretty well set up over there. From time to time I get to help host delegations of visiting media types. They’re comfortable, and smug as all get out. They carry China with them — it’s very rare to meet one who gives a fig about any aspect of Western society or culture. China is all they need, and the West is on its way out anyway. So the Party has told them: so they believe. “This will be the Chinese century!”

    Upper-middle-class life in China goes like this: You attach yourself somehow to some “enterprise,” run by a “Director” who, much more often than not, is also the Party Secretary for the thing. You kiss up and do as you’re told. Once in a while you betray a friend or colleague — you get points for that. You attend meetings you can pretty much doze through, just raising your hand when the boss raises his. If you become aware that the boss is helping himself to the enterprise’s funds, which he pretty invariably is, you keep very quiet about it. Once in a while you get a trip abroad, giving you the opportunity to see that the West is just as dysfunctional a mess, with just as little faith in itself, and just as obviously a goner, as the Party has been telling you all your life. You have the one approved child, and beggar yourself paying fees and bribes to get him into a good college. You get emphysema from the stupendous levels of air pollution in Chinese cities. You die.
    –John Derbyshire

    Derbyshire lived in China, speaks Chinese and is married to a woman from the PRC.

  • avatar

    @Wrongie Schreiber:

    Isn’t technology wonderful? There already must be a high speed Internet connection between Mother Earth and Mars, where you seem to live.

    As for “a member of a culture that, like China, dates to the second millennium” of the politically oh so correct BCE: Wasn’t the stone age more like 3 million years ago?

    Again, I urge you to swap your 5th hand information for some real, first hand impressions. You’ll be amazed. Or in your case, shocked and horrified.

    Also, since you seem to be fond of conservative sources (nothing wrong with that,) may I remind you that Republican Richard Nixon started it all?

  • avatar
    fallout11

    In my experience, Mr. Derbyshire could just as easily been describing the United States in the above paragraph. Simply substitute the appropriate words, and voila.
    Very interesting. I’d entertain a few years in China, as engineering is my field. My only fear would be that Crackers is roughly correct, it would be strictly a temporary affair and the Chinese will be only to quick to drop you once they’ve learned what they can, and China-clone it themselves (as has been the general case with everything else Chinese of late).

  • avatar

    I wouldn’t worry about obsolsescence. The US and European standards are a moving target. I spend most of my time explaining the most simple ECE rules again and again.

    Here is the beauty: On Chinese Universities, you either learn languages, or you learn engineering. There is an incredible shortage of engineers who speak English, or any foreign language.

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