Chinese Automaker Takes Center Stage At Geneva Auto Show

    BYD has been in the news quite a bit lately, with its CEO Wang Chuanfu becoming the richest person in China last year and the company announcing plans to link up with Daimler to set up a new electric vehicle brand and R&D center in China.
    Jing DailyAuthor
      Published   in Fashion

    Buffett-Backed BYD (Build Your Dreams) Hopes To Become Permanent Fixture#

    Jing Daily

    The AFP reports todayon the up-and-coming, Warren Buffett-endorsed Chinese automaker BYD (discussed previously on Jing Daily) making its debut at this year's Geneva Auto Show. BYD has been in the news quite a bit lately, with its CEO Wang Chuanfu becoming the richest person in China last year and the company announcing plans to link up with Daimlerto set up a new electric vehicle brand and R&D center in China. Though BYD's plans to crack the lucrative US market have not yet materialized, it appears the brand may have its hands full in its home market. Nonetheless, its appearance at the Geneva Auto Show, alongside other emerging-market players like Tata of India and Malaysia's Bufori, is BYD's way of showing it intends to do everything possible to develop a larger global footprint.

    From the AFP:

    "BYD is a feature of the Geneva show from now on," proclaimed a European executive, as his company announced a tie-up with German giant Daimler to develop an electric car for China.

    One of its domestic rivals, Brilliance, has disappeared from Geneva since it became the first Chinese carmaker ever to display here in 2007 with ambitions of breaking into the European market within five years.

    Indian industrial giant Tata's own brand has repeatedly professed long term optimism in the Swiss city and was on show here on Wednesday for the 12th year running.

    But its much touted Nano, billed as the world's cheapest car, has yet to be put on sale in Europe and local ambitions ride for now on luxury British made Jaguar and Land Rover, which Tata bought in 2008.

    "It won't really work for Tata I don't think," said Frank Schwope, an analyst for German bank NordLB.

    "But the Chinese companies will have a much bigger role in the world. They're already big."

    As the article points out, Chinese automakers like BYD -- despite their size and mountains of cash -- still have a long road ahead if they're going to be able to convince auto buyers outside of China of their quality and reliability. This may be even more difficult in the short term because of Toyota's recent difficulties. If an established, trusted Asian company like Toyota can have quality control issues, in the minds of consumers, it will be hard to trust a new, relatively untested company like BYD. However, making appearances at major auto shows is a good way to give consumers outside of China a chance to see and become acquainted with the new kid on the block.

    Shenzen-based BYD Auto, whose sales have boomed at home, has been making inroads into the emerging markets in Asia and the Middle East while it builds up a sales network in Europe and improves quality.

    In Geneva it announced that sales of a hybrid saloon and its new all electric E6 people carrier would be rolled out in Europe over the coming two years.

    BYD's tentative cooperation deal with Daimler, which is primarily aimed at the Chinese market, also involves exchanging vehicle-making nowhow with the German carmaker.

    Although they often assemble vehicles for Japanese, US and European brands in China, previous attempts by Chinese firms to export their own cars have foundered on European technical and safety standards.

    "If they want to go for an export strategy they've got to raise their game," said Colin Couchman, automotive analyst at Global Insight.

    "There's no one obvious. They're in the early part of their learning curve," he added.
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