Carmakers to increase share in world's largest vehicle market

2021-03-22 17:03:37China Daily Editor : Cheng Zizhuo ECNS App Download
People visit the 18th Guangzhou International Automobile Exhibition at the China Import and Export Fair Complex in Guangzhou, South China's Guangdong province, on Nov 29, 2020. (Photo/Xinhua)

People visit the 18th Guangzhou International Automobile Exhibition at the China Import and Export Fair Complex in Guangzhou, South China's Guangdong province, on Nov 29, 2020. (Photo/Xinhua)

International carmakers and auto suppliers have expressed their commitment to China at the ongoing China Development Forum, which has "engaging with the world for common prosperity "as its theme this year.

"This year marks the beginning of China's 14th Five-Year Plan. Your country is embarking on a new journey of modernization," said BMW Chairman Oliver Zipse.

"The importance of China is truly global. Whenever China embarks on a new journey of modernization, this has worldwide implications," said Zipse, who serves as the co-chair of the forum.

He said besides China's expanding middle class, the country is becoming the leader in applying digital technologies-not only in its industry, but also with the aim to improve broader social welfare.

BMW has established its largest R&D footprint outside its home of Germany, with research facilities in Shanghai and Beijing as well as in Shenyang, Liaoning province.

It is expanding collaboration with leading Chinese technology companies as well, including Alibaba.

This year, the carmaker is establishing a joint venture in China to accelerate the integration of in-car digital features to meet the demands of tech-savvy Chinese customers.

Since 2009, it has invested more than 64 billion yuan ($9.81 billion) in Shenyang to build vehicle and battery plants and infrastructure.

BMW is one of the first international car companies to scale up its stake in its Chinese joint ventures, thanks to China's continuous opening-up.

Daimler Chairman Ola Källenius said his company will further grow its presence in the country.

"I can assure you: We remain committed to further strengthening our footprint in your country," said Källenius in his address to the annual event.

He said the largest production base for Mercedes-Benz cars is in China and, even more importantly, the Chinese automotive landscape has repeatedly surpassed the premium carmaker's expectations.

"China is part of our past; an even bigger part of our present; and key to our future," said Källenius.

Last year, despite COVID-19, Mercedes-Benz delivered a total of 774,382 new cars to Chinese customers, an increase of 11.7 percent year-on-year. The carmaker introduced 18 new models to China in 2020.

The Chinese market was the first among Mercedes-Benz's global markets to demonstrate a recovery in the first half of 2020, becoming the main driver for Mercedes-Benz's global sales.

Wolf-Henning Scheider, CEO of auto supplier ZF, said China has become a global development hub instead of the world's factory.

Multinational companies need to develop a longer-term strategy to ensure sustainable growth in the region, which is one of the world's largest consumer markets.

He said the auto supplier, which is striving to become a technology company in the era of e-mobility, is making the most of local capabilities.

"We are establishing a third large R&D center in China, making China a 'home room' for many of our product lines and empowering our Chinese R&D teams to shape global automotive innovations from China," Scheider said in his speech.

ZF's cameras and driving-assist systems have been used by two major Chinese carmakers.

"They are more eager and open to new things. And they are very ambitious to offer the best for customers," said Scheider in an interview with China Daily.

Last year, ZF's global sales revenue fell around 11 percent year-on-year, but sales in China went up 10 percent, becoming its only growth market.

As its products are gaining wider application in China, he expects the country will play an even more important role as it shifts towards electrification and autonomous driving.

"This year, we are proud that ZF is celebrating its 40-year anniversary in China. We have celebrated many milestones and look forward to strengthening our collaboration and expertise in this region in the coming years," he said.

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