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back to index backASIAtalk December,  2005

Inside China: The Chinese view their automotive future


Automotive manufacturers and suppliers view China as the largest combination of automotive market and low-cost manufacturing and supply base to appear in decades.

Companies are deluged with information about the potential opportunities in China, but typically know very little about what the Chinese think about their automotive future. The steady influx of automotive manufacturers and suppliers over the past ten years has provided the Chinese with first hand experience of what the impact of a world-class, high-volume automotive industry can mean to a country.

The Office for the Study of Automotive Transportation (OSAT) at the University of Michigan Transportation Research Institute (UMTRI) and the IBM Institute for Business Value consider this as an opportune time to explore what the Chinese themselves think about their recent automotive experience, and what they think the future will hold for this industry and their country.

Our study focuses on the opinions of 20 leaders in Chinese industry and government, as well as academic experts. We asked a wide range of questions to better understand their perspective of how the industry looks today and how they believe it will look in the future. Our questions focused on their view of the future auto market structure, how the industry will restructure, and what effect external challenges (air quality, oil supply and the transportation infrastructure) will have on the development of the industry.

The results of our interviews tell us China shares the outside world's hope and enthusiasm for the development of its automotive market. Yet these leaders have a cautious optimism, based on their understanding of the challenges facing the industry.

China's extraordinary market

China represents an extraordinary case of economic development in an emerging market. The number of people in the market, the number of economic reforms faced by the government, and the speed at which the country is making the transition to a full market economy all contribute to the extraordinary nature of change. As an indicator of that growth, its gross domestic product (GDP) is projected to increase more than sevenfold over the next 20 years, as shown in Figure 1. This is dramatic when compared to the amount of time other markets have taken to develop.

The automotive industry in China represents an extraordinary case of industry development. To prepare for admittance to the World Trade Organization (WTO) in 2001, China needed to open its doors to foreign investment, and that investment continues to pour in. Since 1994, foreign automakers have invested close to US$20 billion. Billions more are planned in order to increase capacity by 2010.

To download 32-page study, click here.

Source: IBM and OSAT - GAI

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