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China’s Qoros Aiming Up-Market with New Concept

Export market is a target.

by on Jun.23, 2014

The Qoros 9 Concept suggests what the maker's flagship might look like in 2020.

While it hasn’t been around all that long, its short history hasn’t stopped Qoros from trying to imagine what it could be like in the not-too-distant future.  And if the maker’s new Qoros 9 Concept is any indication, it expects to be targeting the fast-growing Chinese luxury car market.

Qoros debuted barely a year ago as a joint venture between China’s Chery Automobile and the conglomerate Israel Corp.  The two partners have made it clear that they view Qoros as a global manufacturer, and one that won’t follow the typical pattern for emerging Asian makers, targeting the low end with cheap econoboxes.

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The Qoros 9 is billed as a possible flagship sedan that could come to market by 2020 and, at least visually, it has all the right cues, such as the long nose and coupe-like roofline that flows into a tall, short deck, as well as a high beltline and Xenon lamps framed by LED accent lights. The tail, meanwhile, features a semi-circular LED lamp assembly that focuses the eye on an oversized “Q” logo.

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China’s BYD Ready to Launch into U.S. Market – Really.

Long-delayed debut could come in 2015, maker insists.

by on Jan.07, 2014

One of BYD's latest models, the F3R.

A New Year and an old promise.  Once again, China’s BYD says it is ready to finally enter the U.S. market.  It’s the same thing the maker has been claiming since showing off its products at the North American International Auto Show in 2010. But while the company will be notably absent from the Detroit show this year, a senior executive claims it is finally ready to make the jump across the Pacific.

The Chinese maker, which has the backing of U.S. mega-investor Warren Buffett’s Berkshire Hathaway, plans to introduce four models into the U.S. by the end of 2015, according to Stella Li, who oversees operations in the States.

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But don’t expect the maker to simply come in and undercut the competition, notably “value-priced” brands like Hyundai and Kia, she told the Bloomberg News Service.

“BYD has become more fashionable and we have improved our design and safety. We don’t want to compete on price anymore, but on quality and innovation,” Li said, during an interview of Shenzhen, China.

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Mercedes Increasingly Desperate to Reverse Losses in China

Share slips as Audi, BMW come on strong.

by on Apr.10, 2013

The Mercedes CLA Concept debuting in Beijing last year. The production version could be critical for the maker's revival in the Chinese market.

Mercedes-Benz continues to lose ground in China’s booming premium car market to arch-rivals BMW and Audi — but Daimler AG’s top executive, Dieter Zetsche, told the company’s shareholders meeting the automaker is confident it can make up the ground it has lost in recent months.

Mercedes’ slide has been both acute and unexpected and the maker has struggled even after slashing prices on key models such as the flagship S-Class sedan. That’s particularly worrisome since many analysts expect China will soon become the world’s largest market for luxury vehicles, surging past the U.S.

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Zetsche admitted to shareholders that Daimler management is keenly aware it has failed to keep pace with the growth in China. “Our sales had increased rapidly for five years in a row. During that period we posted the strongest average growth of all the premium brands there. Last year, our business expanded only slightly and we lost market share. We have to change this situation and we will.”

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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.

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Despite Weakening Economy, Chinese Car Sales Still Solid

Chinese airline to start in-flight car sales.

by on Mar.12, 2013

VW and GM remain locked in a battle for dominance in the booming Chinese market.

Surging global stock markets slipped back this week as China released surprisingly weak economic data – but one sector of the vast Asian nation’s economy remains strong, Chinese car sales surging 40% for the first two months of 2013 after an unexpectedly weak performance last year.

For some carmakers, Chinese demand appears to be surging as they bring on new products, while for others, it is taking new discounts to help bolster sales.

But industry analysts continue to worry about what may happen as government regulators come under increasing pressure from both the public and a new cadre of Communist Party leaders to tighten environmental regulations in the wake of record pollution levels in the capital Beijing and other parts of the country. As TheDetroitBureau.com recently reported, stricter automotive emission rules – possibly including a press for more battery cars – are being actively considered.

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The 40% year-to-date increase in overall Chinese car sales comes despite a drop in February as the Chinese celebrated the Lunar New Year, a week-long holiday during which little or no business is transacted across China.

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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.

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GM Sets Another New Sales Record in China – And it’s Not Alone.

Maker still has a month to go before closing books on 2012.

by on Dec.06, 2012

A Cadillac XLR at its Beijing debut earlier this year.

The once-explosive pace of growth in the Chinese car market has slowed down sharply this year – which means that General Motors had to wait until November to set a new sales record.

With a month left to run up the final total, GM and its various affiliates have sold 2,593,642 cars, trucks and crossovers in China, compared with 2,547,171 for all of last year.  The good news for GM – and its competitors – was that November saw a renewed surge in a market that has, over the past decade, seen sales nearly double in some years.

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GM isn’t alone, however, Ford was one of a number of other makers that also reported hitting all-time sales records by the end of November and still more are expected to get there by the time December’s numbers are tallied.  On the other hand, key Japanese makers could miss their once-lofty sales goals as a result of ongoing political turmoil.

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Chinese Auto Market Continues Losing Steam

U.S. likely to outpace China for 2012.

by on Sep.11, 2012

The Geely Gleagle at the recent Beijing Motor Show.

It’s been the engine that helped prop up many an automaker through the industry’s recent hard times, continuing to help European manufacturers overcome their problems at home. But there are growing signs that China’s once booming auto industry is fast losing momentum – like much of the rest of that nation’s economy.

China remains the world’s largest automotive market but data released today by the China Association of Auto Manufacturers suggests it won’t even keep pace with the U.S. market this year.  After an unexpected dip during the first quarter and a tepid recovery during the late spring and early summer, August automotive sales rose a meager 3.7%.

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That’s well below what most analysts had been forecasting – and the equivalent of a major downturn considering that for much of the past decade China’s car market grew at well into a double-digit pace, some years topping 70%.

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Subaru Shifting Focus Away From China

Maker putting the emphasis back on North America.

by on May.15, 2012

Subaru will downplay China and focus on North America, possibly expanding the Indiana plant building vehicles like the Legacy.

Even as – and perhaps because – much of the rest of the auto industry rapidly ramps up production in China Subaru has decided to scale back its ambitions for the booming Asian market.

With the automotive subsidiary of Fuji Heavy Industries now delaying plans for a Chinese plant it will scale up its presence in the key North American market, reports Automotive News, possibly even with a second assembly plant.

“We will prioritize expanding production in America while we watch the situation in China and consider what to do there when there are some developments,” Fuji President Yasuyuki Yoshinaga told the trade publication.

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Subaru is a relative latecomer to the Chinese market, something that might not have been a problem until recently.  But that country’s automotive market has entered into an unexpected slowdown worsened by an overall cooling of the Chinese economy.  Meanwhile, major automakers, such as General Motors, Volkswagen and Nissan, are already battling it out in China raising concerns about the chances of a newcomer like Subaru.

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Ford Plans to Double Capacity in China

Will invest $760 mil in new factory.

by on Apr.19, 2012

Ford showed the Start Concept at Beijing, last year.

Hoping to catch up after a late start in what is now the world’s largest automotive market, Ford Motor Co. plans to invest $760 million to build a new assembly plant in China.

The new facility will boost the maker’s total capacity in China to 1.2 million vehicles a year and bring its total investment in the world’s most populous nation to $4.9 billion.  Even so, it will leave Ford significantly short if its eventual goal is to catch up to Detroit rival General Motors – which last year set an all-time sales record of 2.5 million vehicles in China.

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“So far, Ford’s investments in China and across Asia represent its largest and most rapid global expansion in fifty years,” said Joe Hinrichs, the maker’s president of Asia, Pacific and African operations.

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