Ma­jor au­tomak­ers fo­cus R&D ef­forts, in­vest­ment in China

China Daily (Hong Kong) - - MOTORING - HAO YAN

In­ter­na­tional car­mak­ers are in­vest­ing heav­ily to lo­cal­ize their re­search and de­vel­op­ment op­er­a­tions in China, the world’s largest au­to­mo­bile mar­ket.

BMW ’s Chi­nese ven­ture, BMW Bril­liance Au­to­mo­tive Ltd, ex­panded its R&D cen­ter ear­lier this month in Shenyang, cap­i­tal of north­east­ern Liaon­ing prov­ince. T he fa­cil­ity is now BMW G r o u p ’s largest out­side Eu­rope.

The new cen­ter, span­ning more than 40,000 square me­ters, is five times that of the first phase of de­vel­op­ment, put into use in 2013.

“The new R&D cen­ter is a tes­ti­mony to BMW Bril­liance’s com­mit­ment of ‘In China, for China’. In­no­va­tion is the crit­i­cal foun­da­tion of our cor­po­rate strat­egy, and the cen­ter is the con­nec tion be tween in­no­va­tion and the ap­pli­ca­tion,” said Jo­hann Wieland, pres­i­dent and CEO of BMW Bril­liance Au­to­mo­tive.

BMW Group’s sales in China, in­clud­ing BMW and Mini branded ve­hi­cles’ de­liv­er­ies, were up 18.4 per­cent in the first half-year.

This strong in­crease is largely due to full avail­abil­ity of the BMW X1 and the pop­u­lar­ity of the new BMW 1 Series sedan, a car de­signed ex­clu­sively for China, ac­cordi n g t o t h e g r o u p ’s n e w s re­lease.

Jo h n S h e n , A c c e n t u r e Strat­egy Greater China man­ag­ing di­rec­tor, said: “In­ter­na­tional au­tomak­ers have to ex­pand their lo­cal R&D ca­pa­bil­i­ties to ac­cel­er­ate their prod­uct de­vel­op­ment, while boost­ing the cor­re­la­tions with the lo­cal de­mands.”

“Con­sid­er­ing the world’s l a r g e s t m a r ke t ’s s c a l e , t h e in­ter­na­tional car­mak­ers are fo­cus­ing more on China, so they are em­pow­er­ing the com­pa­nies in the countr y,” he added.

Ya l e Z h a n g , m a n a g i n g di­rec­tor of Au­to­mo­tive Fore­sight (Shang­hai), noted that BMW is among the pro­gres­sive in­ter­na­tional au­tomak­ers in ex­pand­ing the R&D ca­pa­bil­i­ties in the Chi­nese auto mar­ket, to­gether with Volvo Car Group and Volk­swa­gen AG.

Volvo Car Group is to set up a new joint ven­ture with Geely Hold­ing to share ex­ist­ing and fu­ture au­to­mo­bile t e c h n o l o g y, a c c o r d i n g t o a mem­o­ran­dum of un­der­stand­ing the two par ties signed on Thurs­day.

The 50 -50 joint ven­ture will be head­quar­tered in China with a sub­sidiar y in Gothen­burg, Swe­den.

The part­ner­ship will e n a b l e Vo l v o C a r G r o u p , Geely Auto and Lynk & Co — all of which are con­trolled by Geely Hold­ing — to share tech­nolo­gies via li­cense agree­ments.

Which­ever com­pany leads the de­vel­op­ment will own the tech­nol­ogy and the other group com­pa­nies will have full ac­cess to it through a li­cense, re­duc­ing over­all de­vel­op­ment costs.

Lo­cal me­dia re­ports said Vo l k s w a g e n A G , w h i c h en­tered into a joint ven­ture with JAC Mo­tors called JAC Volk­swa­gen, also has a plan to build a new R&D cen­ter for new en­ergy ve­hi­cles with a to­tal in­vest­ment of 6 bil­lion yuan.

Shen added: “The dig­i­tal evo­lu­tion is re­shap­ing con­sumer de­mands and com­pe­ti­tions, and the sit­u­a­tion in China is ahead of that in the United States and Eu­rope. As a re­sult, the R&D cen­ters in China are nec­es­sary given the ex­pec­ta­tion it will grow to one of the lead­ing pow­ers in au­ton­o­mous driv­ing, mo­bil­ity, dig­i­tal­iza­tion, and so on.”

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