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Volvo Likely to Begin Importing from China in 2015

Maker will focus on stretched version of new S60 model.

by on Aug.26, 2014

The Volvo S60L sedan, which is assembled at the new Volvo plant in Chengdu, could be the first vehicle exported from China to the U.S.

Despite years of promises, Chinese automakers like Chery Automotive and BYD have yet to follow through by importing their products to the United States. But the long drought is expected to come to an end next year, and the first automaker to ship a Chinese-made vehicle to the U.S. now appears likely to be Volvo Cars.

Purchased by China’s Zhejiang Geely Holdings in 2010, Volvo is now operating two factories in the fast-growing Asian country, with most of the capacity earmarked for local buyers. But the Swedish brand’s chief executive officer says it is preparing to export at least one of those products next year.

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“A very likely candidate” is the long-wheelbase version of Volvo’s S60 sedan, the maker’s CEO and President Hakan Samuelsson said in response to a question from, adding that a target date “sometime in 2015” is “absolutely likely.” (more…)

BMW Launching New Brand in China

But Zhi Nuo brand might eventually go global.

by on Apr.08, 2013

According to some reports, BMW may use the X1 as its first product for the new Zhi Nuo brand.

BMW is the latest global automaker to announce plans to create a special sub-brand for the Chinese market – but the German luxury giant is also eyeing its start-up as a possible source of exports.

We should hear more about the new Zhi Nuo brand at the Shanghai Auto Show later this month. BMW and its Chinese partner Brilliance Automotive are expected to introduced their first new model there, a version of the old 3-Series.

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Since the Chinese automotive market began opening up a dozen years ago, it has been flooded by a Who’s-Who of foreign manufacturers. In turn, domestic makers have struggled to hang on, most of the successful ones by entering into joint ventures required by law of global manufacturers.  But under pressure from the government, these JV operations have begun creating special local brands of their own.


China’s Car Boom Could Go Bust

Reining in sales in the name of clean air.

by on Mar.01, 2013

Ford CEO Alan Mulally during a recent trip to China. Ford's sales are booming but could slip if regulators curtail the Chinese market.

After a few stutters last year, China’s massive automotive market seemed to get back on track in January, sales surging 46% compared to year-earlier levels. Yet there’s growing concern that the good times won’t continue for long.

There are a number of reasons to be worried, including a still frail global economy, nagging regional issues that include an ongoing territorial dispute with Japan and declining foreign investment. Yet the biggest concern, it seems, may be China’s endemic and worsening problems with air pollution.

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That has already led Chinese regulators to call for a rapid switch to battery-powered vehicles. But with market demand lagging Beijing’s call, a growing number of observers fear the central government may soon put in place steps to curb automotive ownership.

A growing number of major cities, including capital Beijing and economic center Shanghai, have already put restrictions in place, such as monthly limits on new vehicle registrations – though such measures have generally been aimed at curbing traffic problems, rather than emissions issues.


New Qoros Brand Staging Global Debut in Geneva

Taking aim at a global market.

by on Feb.18, 2013

The Qoros 3 sedan will launch in China late this year and land in Europe soon afterwards.

China may be the world’s largest automotive market but when it comes to building vehicles for export it’s more on the par with, say, Turkey. Despite repeated announcements, only a handful of Chinese makers have so far been able to go global, and usually just in select markets, such as Brazil.

But that could soon change. The all-new Chinese brand Qoros plans to make its debut at the 2013 Geneva Motor Show where it will launch not only a new sedan, the Qoros 3, but also two concept studies that it promises will be part of a “rapid expansion of the model range.”

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To make sure it isn’t dismissed lightly, an advance release highlights the fact that the new Chinese maker is tapping a global brain trust of “internationally renowned suppliers such as Magna Steyr, TRW, Continental, Bosch, Getrag, Benteler, Lear, Microsoft, Harman, Neusoft-Alpine and Iconmobile.”


First Chinese Auto Plant Opens in Europe

Can cheap Chinese cars crack the European market?

by on Feb.28, 2012

The first car rolls off the assembly plant at the new Great Wall factory in Bulgaria, China's first in the EU.

Europe’s ongoing debt crisis has been crippling the Continental economy, sending automakers into a tailspin.  By most estimates, European car sales will buck the global turnaround and post at least a modest decline this year.

But that could be good news for the Chinese automaker Great Wall Motor which hopes to appeal to increasingly budget-minded European buyers with models like the Hover SUV, Steed pickup and Voleex city car.  All three will be produced at a new plant in the village of Bahovitsa, Bulgaria, and carry prices ranging from around $11,000 to $16,000.

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While Bulgaria itself is not a name normally associated with car manufacturing what’s all the more significant is that the three products will be produced at what is the first Chinese-run auto plant in the European Union.  The factory is part of a joint venture between Great Wall and its Bulgarian partner Litex Motors.


China Auto Exports Top 1 Million

Makers like Geely, Chery, sidestep U.S. and Europe for emerging markets.

by on Jan.19, 2012

Chinese automakers are rapidly increasing exports. Honda will soon use its Chinese factory to produce the small Fit for Canada.

While the final sales and production numbers from 2011 are still being tallied one new numbers is bound to catch attention of executives and analysts from Tokyo, to Stuttgart and Detroit.

Chinese automakers exported more than 1 million finished vehicles to markets all around the world, according to new data coming out of the Asian nation. Chinese carmakers, however, have bypassed the big “Triad” markets in North America, Europe and Japan and have instead focused on exporting vehicles to emerging markets in Africa, South America, the Middle East and South Asia.

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That could change, however, as Honda has announced plans to export some of its Chinese-made Fit subcompacts to Canada, while Geely has set up a U.S. headquarters in Los Angeles that could be followed by a small number of imports this year.  Nonetheless, it appears the Chinese are betting their best opportunity will come from emerging markets.


Chinese Auto Exports Ramping Up

Canada to get Honda Fit, but nothing planned for U.S. – yet.

by on Dec.22, 2011

Honda plans to export the Fit subcompact from China to Canada -- at least temporarily.

The Honda Fit delivers the best value of any model on the market, declares Consumer Reports.

With the domestic market starting to show signs of a slowdown perhaps it should come as no surprise that China’s automakers are ramping up plans to export product to other parts of Asia, Europe and now, even North America.

Honda will soon begin shipping the subcompact Fit from its plant in southern China to Canada – though there are currently no plans to bring any of those products into the U.S.  That’s not necessarily surprising as that could generate a harsh response considering China this month said it plans to enact stiff no tariffs on American-made automobiles.

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Honda isn’t alone.  Mercedes-Benz and BMW have also announced plans to export product from China.  And some of that country’s local makers are openly laying out plans for a global assault – including the battery car maker BYD, which recently opened up an office in Los Angeles.


Mercedes Bets on the Middle Kingdom

Chinese momentum “tremendous,” says CEO Zetsche.

by on Apr.18, 2011

Daimler is preparing to launch production of the Mercedes-Benz GLK at its Chinese assembly plant.

When Daimler AG’s shareholders quizzed Deiter Zetsche’s plans for the future he basically summed it up with one word – China.

The booming Asian nation now dominates Daimler’s strategic thinking, which is why it’s no surprise that Zetsche will travel to Shanghai this week to unveil the next version of the Mercedes-Benz A-Class at the Shanghai Auto Show. (With a second prototype getting a follow-up introduction days later at the New York Auto Show.)

In addition, Daimler plans to double the size its new joint-venture plant in Beijing to build 300,000 vehicles annually by 2014-2015, mostly for China’s internal market — though some of the multiple models slated for assembly at the plant could be exported.

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“The momentum of that market is tremendous. As recently as 2008, the ‘Middle Empire’ was number seven on the list of Mercedes-Benz most important market,” Zetsche told Daimler’s shareholders.  Now, “When someone in the auto industry mentions growth, within three sentences the talk will likely be about China.”