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China Shuts Down Autonomous Testing on Highways

Government finalizing rules for testing self-driving vehicles.

by on Jul.20, 2016

No Teslas will be running on Autopilot in China as the government has just issued a moratorium on on-highway testing.

The Chinese government has seen enough and the only autonomous vehicle testing activity it’s going to allow for now near the public is self-parking.

Officials warned automakers that there should be no on-road testing of self-driving vehicles until the rules for those exercises are finalized. Currently, the Ministry of Information Technology and police have an early draft of potential regulations, but nothing has been finalized, said She Weizhen, head of the ministry’s auto department, recently. There is no deadline set for when those rules should be ready, according to Bloomberg News.

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China’s move comes as the U.S. Transportation Secretary Anthony Foxx announced plans to release new guidelines for the ongoing development of self-driving vehicles later this summer. (more…)

Ford Set to Invest $1.8 bil in China R&D

Playing catch-up; will VW problems provide an opportunity?

by on Oct.12, 2015

Ford CEO Fields has steadily expanded the maker's presence in China, including production and R&D.

Ford Motor Co. will invest nearly $2 billion over the next five years on its Chinese R&D operations in a bid to catch up to market leaders Volkswagen AG and General Motors.

A latecomer to what is now the world’s largest automotive market, Ford has rapidly gained ground in recent years as it has expanded both its Chine product portfolio and manufacturing network. Much of its growth has come at the expense of Japanese rivals like Toyota, but the current crisis that has tripped up VW could prove another opportunity for Michigan-based Ford.

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The new R&D effort will include the battery-based vehicles that Chinese regulators are demanding in an effort to deal with that country’s endemic smog problems. At a conference in Shanghai on Monday, Ford CEO Mark Fields said the maker will introduce both a hybrid version of the midsize Mondeo, and a plug-in, the C-Max Energi, in China next year.


Volkswagen Goes Big With C-Coupe GTE

Chinese-only model hints at new Phaeton flagship to come.

by on Apr.20, 2015

Volkswagen C Coupe GTE made its debut in Shanghai. The model will be VW's flagship in China.

It wasn’t all that long ago that Chinese motorists had to wait to see the debut of products already on sale in other parts of the world. These days, a growing number of manufacturers are introducing some of their newest products first in China, the world’s largest automotive market.

And more than a few of these vehicles will – at least initially – only be offered for sale in the booming Asian nation. That’s the case with the next-generation Ford Taurus, as well as the new Volkswagen C Coupe GTE that is making its debut at this week’s Shanghai Motor Show.

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Measuring a full 200 inches in length, with a 76-inch width, this is no Beetle or Golf, but a car aimed for premium buyers who might not want to go all the way up to an Audi. Indeed, the C Coupe is the first model from Volkswagen to share the larger MLB “architecture” primarily designed for the Audi brand, rather than VW’s smaller MQB. (more…)

New Sales Record Can’t Push GM Past VW in China

GM finishes second for second consecutive year while Toyota is third.

by on Jan.06, 2015

Despite a record-setting performance in 2014, GM finished second to Volkswagen in China again.

With archrival Toyota beginning to retrench in the world’s largest market, General Motors and its joint ventures sold a record 3,539,970 vehicles in China in 2014, an average of one vehicle every nine seconds and almost 9,700 vehicles each day.

GM’s sales were up 12% from the previous high of 3,160,377 vehicles sold in 2013, but it wasn’t enough to pass market leader Volkswagen, which in 2013 emerged as the leading seller of new vehicles in China. Even Toyota’s sales were up 12.5%, but the company still finished a distant third behind VW and GM in 2014.

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VW sales rose 18% to more than 1.8 million vehicles, the company said today. That compares with GM’s 1.73 million units, an 11% increase. In 2013, the German automaker outsold GM in China for the first time in nine years. (more…)

Chinese Officials Express Concern over Indigenous Brands

Government pushing companies to develop technologies.

by on Oct.21, 2014

China's indigenous automakers are struggling to keep up with companies like Volkswagen, General Motors and others in its own market.

China is the world’s largest and fastest growing automotive market in the world, but the focus of the biggest Chinese policy makers, pundits and executives now is the well-being or fate of the country’s indigenous brands.

Some companies, such as Geely, are doing fine and governmental agencies, particularly local governments with a stake in the so-called state-owned enterprises, or SOEs, are doing what they can to assist the homegrown, according to information presented during the course of the two-day Global Automotive Forum, which was held last week in Wuhan, China.

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China is clearly willing to use subsidies for energy-efficient vehicles, rationed parking stickers and anti-trust enforcement to help bolster the indigenous brands, which have have steadily lost marketshare during the past 18 months. In addition, a new study by the Boston Consulting Group found the more than 80% of the Chinese consumers who expect to buy a car soon prefer foreign brands. (more…)

Chinese Car Sales Slow

Will that encourage Chinese automakers to shift focus to the U.S.?

by on Oct.15, 2014

A Chinese ad for the stretched Volvo S60L represents a possible change in how makers are dealing with slowing Chinese auto sales.

China’s once red-hot automotive market appears to be cooling down along with the rest of the Asian nation’s economy – and that could create some serious headaches for manufacturers who have committed billions of dollars in investments for new products and the plants needed to build them.

The slowdown raises the possibility that after long focusing on the booming domestic market, automakers might now need to shift focus to exporting cars to Europe and the U.S. to keep their factories running at full speed. Some observers are speculating that might be one of the reasons why investment guru Warren Buffett has purchased one of the largest auto dealer networks in the U.S.

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The slowdown in China nonetheless needs to be put into perspective. While the pace of growth has slowed substantially from the days when sales soared by as much as 100% annually, China’s car market is still the world’s largest and is growing at roughly the same rate as the U.S. automotive recovery. (more…)

Volkswagen Adds to Sales Lead Over GM in China

by on Oct.13, 2014

GM's sales in China, in which Cadillac is critical, are up 11.6%, but still trail Volkswagen's results.

The automotive sales race in China is a neck-and-neck affair, but the Volkswagen Group continues to hold a lead of about 140,000 units over rival General Motors. Other makers that were expecting to see strong results there – namely Ford and Nissan – have fallen off the pace a bit in recent months.

Volkswagen reported its sales have increased 15% to 2.72 million units through Sept. 30, making China the company’s single largest global market. Sales were strong during September when the German maker delivered 2.72 million units in China, marking a 15.2% increase.

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GM and its Chinese joint ventures reported a 15.2% increase in September as well. For the first nine months, GM’s sales totaled 2.58 million vehicles, up 11.6% from the same period a year earlier. (more…)

China Echoes US, January Sales Taking a Tumble

But the market is still growing at an enviable rate.

by on Feb.13, 2014

Ford CEO Alan Mulally has reason to be happy: sales are up in China, unlike many of Ford's competitors.

Late to market, Ford Motor Co. has been racing to catch up with its competitors in China. The maker got a solid boost there last month, sales surging by 53% year-over-year.

But Ford is one of the few makers to be celebrating. After more than a decade of massive growth that has transformed China into the world’s largest automotive market, demand has been sputtering in recent months, and January sales clearly reflected the overall economic slowdown plaguing the country.

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That said, even at a mere 7% increase compared to January 2013, Chinese car sales still managed to maintain at least some momentum – in sharp contrast to the U.S. where demand last month showed a worrisome setback after the booming pace set in 2013. (more…)

Qoros Doubles Down in China

Chinese-Israeli maker adding hatchback to model line-up.

by on Dec.30, 2013

Qoros unveiled a teaser of its newest model for China in 2014: a hatchback.

New car buyers in China will have one more option in 2014. Qoros released a teaser photo of its second model that will debut at the Geneva Motor Show in March.

The new vehicle, which will join the Qoros 3 in the company’s line-up, will go on sale in China after its debut in Europe.

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The yet-to-be-named model is a five-door hatchback that is likely to borrow much of its styling from the aforementioned Qoros 3. In fact, the photo shows the grille of the new model and it looks almost the same as the company’s other model. (more…)

VW Emerging as Sales Leader in China over GM in 2013

Ford making big strides to gain sales, passes Toyota.

by on Dec.26, 2013

VW appears to have wrested the sales crown away from General Motors in China this year.

In what has been a fierce battle for sales supremacy in China, it appears that Volkswagen is going to emerge victorious over General Motors for the first time in nine years.

The two automakers, which have announced ambitious investment plans for the country, have been running neck-and-neck all year. VW hit the 3-million vehicle mark in early December with GM eclipsing the mark shortly thereafter.

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Volkswagen plans to invest $24.6 billion through 2018 to expand in China. In the first 11 months of this year, the automaker boosted sales by 17% to 2.96 million vehicles, according to Bloomberg News. VW accounts for nearly 80% of the vehicles sold, but the numbers also include Skoda, Audi, Porsche, Bentley, Lamborghini and Seat. (more…)