Consistently loud: Foton
We ended our last overseas adventure, the Trans-Siberian Series, in Mongolia with an exploration of the best-selling cars in this cold country. I’m resuming my exploration of this part of the world, leaping South to Shanghai in China where the biennial Auto Show took place in April.
Now that the dust has settled, it’s time to investigate the plethora of Chinese carmakers at the show (over 40) and trim it down to the 10 most impressive. It’s an abashedly subjective ranking. However, know that many aspects were considered to establish it: from interior/exterior quality and design of the models revealed, the number/validity of new cars, concept cars, brochures, staff availability, savviness and friendliness, as well as whether or not they improved since last year at the Beijing Auto Show.
In brackets are the ranking I gave these manufacturers at the Beijing Auto Show in 2014.
Discover the carmakers ranked from #10 to #6 below the jump…
Ford and Mazda have been divorced ever since Ford cashed in its shares to finance a survival. Everywhere, except in China. In China, nothing goes without government approval, and because there was none, both Ford and Mazda had to continue their threesome with joint joint-venture partner Changan. An impending dissolution was announced several times. In August, Ford CEO Alan Mulally told reporters in Chongqing: “Ford and Mazda and their local Chinese partner Chongqing Changan have received approval from China’s central government to split their three-way, manufacturing and sales joint venture into two.” Got you! Not true. Now, it finally is.
Divorces can be messy and expensive (ask me how I know) and take longer than thought (ask Frau Schmitto-san how she knows). Or ask Ford and Mazda. When Ford’s love affair with Mazda unraveled because Ford needed the cash, there was the case of their Chinese three-way joint venture with Changan. Two years ago, a deal was struck. It supposedly received the all-important Chinese government approval. Supposedly. Today, the threesome still isn’t dissolved. But it won’t be much longer.
Quite ironically, foreign carmakers, namely GM and now French PSA, help China kick-start its ailing export machine.
Everybody had been hysterical about cheap Chinese cars that would soon flood the market, but it didn’t happen. Quite the opposite is happening: Joint venture brands, led by General Motors, are grabbing a larger and larger share of the Chinese market. And foreigners are gearing up to get China a chunk of the world market.
Many equate China with smoke and soot belching cars. In reality, China’s emission and fuel consumption standards now generally follow the European roadmap. Implementation of standards trails the European role model by only a few years. Ironically, it is a European brand that just ran afoul of this misperception – if Chinese media is correctly informed.
China’s Chongqing Changan is entering the lion’s den. The Chinese joint venture partner of Ford, Suzuki, and PSA will open a research center in Detroit and draw from the rich talent pool. Changan will become the first Chinese automobile company to establish such a center in the US, Gasgoo says.
About a year Editor-in Chief, Ed Niedermeyer, reported that GM and SAIC were discussions about co-operating in the Indian market. Then, in May, our overseas editor, Bertel Schmitt, reported how GM China was going to raid their Chinese line up and sell it in India. I dismissed the developments as the first step in GM being “China-centric”. But today Automotive World reports that Zhang Baolin, President of Chongqing Changan Automobile is having talks with Ford (their western partner in China) about extending their partnership from China to, you guessed it, India. “We have discuss with Ford to use their network to expand overseas, but have not yet come to an agreement yet,” said Zhang Baolin, via Bloomberg News. On the topics’ list are things like whose brand to use and what vehicles will be sold in India.
We had been reporting for quite a while that estranged Ford and Mazda had filed for divorce that would annul their three-way ménage with China’s Changan. If you’ve ever been through a divorce (don’t remind me) you know that that can take a while and can drive you bonkers. Time for a celebration:
A three-way relationship in the open is every man’s dream. Those who tried it usually recommend against it. Why? Just ask them. As predicted, Mazda is putting an end to the three way Chinese Changan-Mazda-Ford joint venture. Mazda wants to go it alone with Changan, and no longer play third fiddle.
China’s Changan could make an own-brand car, based on technology acquired from joint venture partner Ford, says Automotive News [sub]. It would likely be a mid-sized sedan, based on a Ford platform. It would be produced in Changan’s plant in Nanjing, near Shanghai.
Threesomes can get burdensome to keep together. Didn’t we report in January that Ford, Mazda, and China’s Changan want to end the ménage-a-la-trois and forge their individual joint ventures? It was quickly dismissed as “speculation.” Just because it’s a speculation doesn’t mean that it won’t come true.
As if the Japanese don’t have enough problems in China, now the Chinese are beating them at their own game: Quality.
“Many Chinese automakers are focusing on improving their quality control by introducing techniques developed in Japan and elsewhere overseas.” This assessment doesn’t come from a propaganda arm of the Chinese car industry.
France’s PSA wants a bigger slice of the growing Chinese pie. They agreed to set up a joint venture with government-owned Changan. Peugeot already has a joint venture with Changan’s rival Dongfeng, while Changan has a joint venture with Ford. Nevertheless, the new JV will “not compete directly with other partnerships,” the companies said in a statement published by Bloomberg.