Mon, Apr 23, 2012 - Page 11 News List

Carmakers aim for China market

MOVING EAST:Auto industry leaders have moved to secure access to the world’s biggest car market and even deigned to share their technology secrets with China

AGENCIES, TOKYO and BEIJING

Honda Motor Co will provide its core hybrid car technologies to a number of Chinese automakers, looking to boost sales in the world’s largest car market, a report said yesterday.

As Honda’s sales in China have long been sluggish, it aims to achieve a turnaround by aggressively pushing its hybrid vehicle technologies, the Japanese business daily Nikkei Shimbun reported.

“We hope that other automakers will use our IMA technologies,” a Honda executive told the business daily, referring to Honda’s hybrid system.

“We want to set industry standards for hybrid technologies in the world’s biggest car market,” he said.

Historically, Japanese carmakers have been cautious about providing their cutting-edge hybrid technologies to others, due to fears of losing their competitive edge.

Honda’s bigger rival Toyota Motor Corp said last year it would manufacture the third model of its Prius hybrid car and its key parts in China in a bid to boost sales there.

GM’s CHINA AIMS

Volkswagen AG and General Motors Co (GM) plan to produce environmentally friendly vehicles in China, but are reluctant to talk about local production of key parts due to concerns over technology leaks, Nikkei reported.

Meanwhile, GM has agreed with its main Chinese partner to restructure their joint venture and give them an equal stake.

The president of GM’s China unit, Kevin Wale, said yesterday that the partners were seeking Chinese government approval of the change.

GM and Shanghai Automotive Industries Corp (SAIC, 上海汽車) had a 50-50 partnership, but GM sold 1 percent to SAIC in 2009 to raise cash, allowing SAIC to record the venture’s revenues on its own books under Chinese financial rules.

Wale said the restructuring would give GM and SAIC equal stakes in an engineering company to make key decisions. SAIC will own 51 percent of a newly created sales company, allowing it to keep recording sales revenues on its own books.

PORSCHE BETS BIG

Separately, Porsche SE’s carmaking unit said it plans to step up expansion plans in China by increasing its dealerships in the country by more than 40 percent this year to meet demand in the world’s largest automobile market.

The maker of the 911 sports car expects the number of Chinese dealerships to increase to 60 by the end of the year from 41 now, Bernhard Maier, the Germany-based carmaker’s sales chief, said yesterday in Beijing. The number of showrooms will increase to about 80 next year and about 100 by 2015, the company said.

The projections help illustrate luxury carmakers’ increasing focus toward China, where IHS Automotive predicts sales of premium light vehicles in the country will increase 24 percent this year.

Volvo Car Corp said last Saturday it aims to more than double its number of models in the country and Bentley Motors Ltd, which opened its 19th Chinese showroom last week, plans to open four more this year.

Porsche, which expects to double global deliveries to 200,000 units by 2018, counts China as its largest market for the Panamera sports car and the Cayenne sport-utility vehicle, Maier said. It’s the second largest market for the Boxster and Cayman, he said.

Its China sales will outpace the 15 percent to 20 percent projected gain in the nation’s overall premium-car demand this year, Porsche forecast last year in November.

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