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April 26, 2019

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‘Infinitely open’ China impacting world auto future

China will not only buy and manufacture cars, but have a significant impact on the automotive industry in the future, since it is “infinitely open” to technological progress, experts and industry leaders say.

The Shanghai auto show, which closed yesterday, has attracted over 1,000 exhibitors from 20 countries and regions, showing the importance that carmakers attach to the Chinese auto market — the world’s largest.

Ferdinand Dudenhoeffer, founder and director of the Center for Automotive Research at the University of Duisburg-Essen, said in a recent interview that China has the best “economies of scale” in the market.

The exhibition is widely regarded as the leading trade fair for the entire Asian region, since more than a quarter of all new cars manufactured by carmakers worldwide are bought in China, according to CAR.

Reflecting the growing importance of the Chinese market, most German automobile manufacturers are offering exclusive products such as long versions of their car models, which are very popular with Chinese buyers.

BMW presented the long version of its newest generation of the popular 3-series at this year’s Auto Shanghai, which will be exclusively offered on the Chinese market. With the A35 L, German automaker Daimler has also introduced a new long version of one of its popular models.

“China is increasingly becoming a powerhouse for automotive technology,” Volkswagen CEO Herbert Diess said before the start of this year’s show.

New technologies, such as electric cars, autonomous driving and the networked vehicle, are all being driven “very strongly” from China, Diess said.

Volkswagen opened four new plants in the cities of Qingdao, Foshan and Tianjin in 2018 and has a total of 23 plants in China.

In March, Daimler announced that the production of its Smart models will be entirely outsourced to China, where the mini cars are set to be manufactured in cooperation with the Chinese car manufacturer Geely.

According to data from CAR, 1.18 million electric cars were sold in 2018 throughout China, accounting for more than half of global sales. Dudenhoeffer forecasts sales will hit 2.2 million this year.

China has the “greatest dynamism” in terms of innovation, and the country is “infinitely open” to technological progress, Dudenhoeffer said.

Bosch, a leading automotive supplier, believes the Chinese market will offer “enormous potential” from the medium to long term, said Stefan Hartung, chairman of Bosch’s Mobility Solutions.

Continental, another major German automotive supplier, says it is planning to expand its production in electric mobility in China.

Continental exhibited drive systems and electronic components for electric mobility at the trade fair.

And the company intends to invest “vigorously” in its new production sites in Tianjin and Changzhou.

In addition to large car manufacturers, many Chinese startups have emerged, especially in the field of electrically powered cars, boosting a technology race.

Xiaopeng Motors, a Chinese electric startup, has presented its P7, a four-door limousine with a 47-kilowatt-hour battery and a range of 600 kilometers.


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