Chinese automakers seek global growth (3)

16:17, July 25, 2011      

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Fu Yuwu, vice chairman of the Society of Automotive Engineers of China, said the domestic auto industry's ambition to expand globally is still in an early stage in terms of export quantity.

"Born just 55 years ago, the country's auto industry increased its production to 18 million units last year. However, exports account for just a small part of its total output," Fu said.

Liu Shaojun, vice director of the Ministry of Commerce's Industrial Department, attributed the slow progress to the absence of world-renowned Chinese brands.

"There are few globally recognized brands among home-grown auto makers. Some simply have no long-term plans for establishing a firm footing in the overseas market, while others have been weak in marketing and after-sales services," Liu said at the China Self-innovated Auto Expo, which was held on July 8.

Zhang shared Liu's view, but stressed that ensuring after-sales services is a major obstacle for Chinese automakers that are eyeing the overseas market."

"I once went to Peru and Chile, where Chinese trucks sold pretty well. However, some consumers complained that they had to wait three months just to replace a few accessories," said Zhang.

However, Zhang is very confident of the quality of the country's vehicles, as home-grown brands have made substantial progress in ensuring reliability in recent years.

"To promote the sale of home-grown brands, I have gone to international auto shows in countries such as Russia, Syria and Algeria six times since 2003. None of the vehicles we exhibited broke down during our 5,000-km-long promotional trip," said Zhang.

According to Zhang, another challenge for Chinese automakers is to meet emission and energy-consumption standards in the overseas market.

"It is a problem facing the entire machinery industry. In addition to cutting costs and enhancing quality, Chinese automakers have to improve their designs to meet these standards," Zhang said.

Despite growing pressures both at home and abroad, Chinese automakers still have many opportunities and advantages, Liu noted.

According to Liu, automobile trade accounts for nearly 10 percent of global trade. However, China's auto exports account for less than 2 percent of the world's total auto trade.

"Automobiles have some of the greatest growing potential out of all of the goods we export," he said.

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