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China still 10 years away from globally competitive car company

Posted Feb 25th 2013 4:29PM

Chinese car plant assembly line

It may be a spell before Chinese automakers are capable of turning out a globally competitive vehicle. That's the findings of a sprawling 200 page report by Bernstein Research. The group went through the trouble of purchasing two Chinese-made cars, importing them to Europe and disassembling them down to every last nut and bolt. The study also included in-depth interviews with CEOs at each of the major manufacturers, including Great Wall, Chery, Brilliance and SAIC among others. Researchers found that by and large, global partners aren't holding up their end of joint venture deals, with the vast majority of foreign automakers seemingly not taking the Chinese market seriously.

The one exception to that rule, according to Bernstein, is General Motors and SAIC. GM has pumped a staggering amount of cash into China, and as a result, SAIC seems leagues ahead of its peers on the design and engineering front. Speaking of engineering, the study found most Chinese cars to simply be reverse-engineered examples of foreign models, with the Toyota Corolla being the most popular. That's due in part to the fact that Chinese automakers spend US$100 million a year on research and development on average.

For comparison's sake, a company like Volkswagen or Toyota spends closer to US$1 billion. The Truth About Cars has a closer look at the report's contents. You can find that writeup here and here.

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