Can China be the next Automotive Superpower?

Can Chinese cars replace Korean and Japanese cars?

10w ago

The word 'good car' and the country China do not go together. Chinese cars are shoddily engineered, poorly built and unsafe. Chinese cars were in the spotlight for resembling western cars too much. But that was a few years ago.

In around 4 years, China went from producing clones , to owning several famous western brands and becoming the largest EV manufacturer in the world.

And now, the time has come, to ask if China's EV advancements have paid off . Will they and what will it take for them to become an automotive superpower?

Getting the timing right

The successes of Japanese and Korean brands in the western world can be attributed to getting their entry right. The Japanese small cars entered the United States during the OPEC Crisis. They were a God's gift to the masses.

The Korean companies stepped in halfway through the Japanese Lost Decade , or simply put , the Japanese Economic Stagnation , and the US Recession.

Korean cars and Japanese cars got successful because they were there , when they were needed the most.

Currently, we are facing another crisis. The ICE ban and the Recession due to COVID-19. China being the largest EV manufacturer in the world, can seize this opportunity.

Owning the London Taxi Company, Geely of China has built several electric London Taxis. They do have some experience in the space. It may be a matter of a few months before Geely launches an electric car in the UK.

Getting the price right

Chinese cars, we know of, are cheap. They are so cheap, that something that feels excessively cheap , can be described as " feeling Chinese" , as if Chinese is a slur.

"Good cars aren't getting cheaper , cheap cars are getting good"

Hyundai is a perfect example of this, their good cars aren't getting any cheaper. Their cheap cars are getting better. The Elantra was once cheap and crappy , but as time passed, it became really good. The Honda Civic, was a cheap car , and now it is incredibly expensive. The Dacia Sandero is cheap, and mediocre.

China needs to make their cars cheap and needs to work on their quality.

Well Built Car with less wizardry or Poorly built car with the latest tech?

Well Built Car with less wizardry or Poorly built car with the latest tech?

Getting the featureset right

When planning out a new car for the next year, one has two different paths to chose from.

1) Make something ordinary , but make it a great contender, on practical testing, but not on paper.

2) Make something look cool on paper and focus on one main feature that makes the car 'pop' .

The Lynk and CO 03, the car that has faster internet than your house.

The Lynk and CO 03, the car that has faster internet than your house.

Like Chinese phones, which are, good on a paper specsheet but not as good on daily use, this is the direction most Chinese car brands go when entering a new market.

Will they Dominate?

The word 'Chinese' is used as a slur to describe anything that feels cheap and crappy in general. Chinese brands have unpronouncable names , and the naming scheme of the models make no sense.

Chinese cars have had a reputation for being unsafe. Recently the Chinese pickup truck, the Great Wall Steed, scored 0 Stars in the NCAP. If we take more Chinese cars like the Huanghai Aurora and the Foton Tun- TunaLand ( I'm not too sure ) , they would fail the global NCAP for sure.

The upcoming Chinese EV's look like a promising end to the dark times of poor quality Chinese vehicles.

Also, China has not learnt about maintaining good public relations. It has issues with literally every country in existance.

Chinese cars may be nice in the future, but they are not going out of China , unless China sorts out all its fights with the Western World.

Lynk and Co is a Chinese brand that is destined to succeed. This is mainly because they are interested in appealing to a younger audience, with more " IOT " ( internet of things ) oriented cars.

How can they Dominate?

They can focus more on the costly research and development side. They can ask for money, but they will not get too much because the CCP is too concerned on building a military.

China needs to fix their PR Nightmare.

China sells their cars as cars of another brand , which is not Chinese, in foreign countries. For example, MG in India.

Polestar and Lynk and Co are masquerading as Swedish when they are Chinese.

The Wuling Houngguang Mini EV, China's most popular EV.

The Wuling Houngguang Mini EV, China's most popular EV.

China has always had the lead in tech, and that shows in their cars. The more tech-savvy audience, can be interested through the the tech in the cars.

Can Chinese cars replace their Korean and Japanese competitors?

Yes! In the near future. The tech in Chinese cars can keep Gen Alpha ( those after Gen Z ) , who grew up with a phone on their hands at all times interested. Not to mention that they cannot live without the tech.

No! Because the Chinese may forget to hand in their homework on Research and Development.

There is always an IF and BUT in all scenarios. Here, the BUT is a bit more significant.

As of 2020, Chinese cars are doing well in Africa, Iran and The Arab Middle East.

There may always be the day when we see Chinese cars ruling the road.

We never know when.

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Comments (18)

  • I do acknowledge that Chinese cars have advanced in many ways - technology, build quality, and its own uniqueness. I just kind of wish they would have more humble attitude and respect towards other automotive companies. Geely is a good example of this. SAIC did the exact opposite back in 2000s with Ssangyong and they are one of the reasons I shudder whenever I hear about Chinese car.

      2 months ago
    • Absolutely correct. SAIC shamelessly copied the Rexton and exported it to the DPRK. I hope Ssangyong is in better care under Mahindra and Mahindra.

        2 months ago
    • Sadly they aren't. In June Mahindra relinquished control of Ssangyong and are currently trying to sell off most of their shares.

        2 months ago
  • You made valid points. Nice one!

      2 months ago
  • It will take them a decade or more and it will likely be an EV world and I will never by one of their cars on principle...just like I avoid all Chinese goods now if I can.

      2 months ago
  • Chinese car show concepts are extraordinary. I feel like they are a lot more creative in tech and design. So if they cud nail your put excellently Jonathan, they wud certainly be at the top of the car world. In fact their impact cud be enormous on our view and love of cars😁

      2 months ago
  • Not until they stop copycat cars and improve safety

      2 months ago