I’m not convinced by this:
Fifteen years ago, if you rode around in a Chinese domestic branded car, they felt like copies of Japanese, Korean, or German vehicles. That’s because in most cases they were. Chinese car companies that were not operating through a joint venture with a foreign brand and who therefore had to rely on their own designs largely copied popular models that were selling well. The copying was legendary; a colleague at Toyota told me that they had a lot of respect for one of the Chinese companies in particular – their copy of one of Toyota’s popular models was so good you could take the doors off of it and put it on the corresponding Toyota and the door seals would work perfectly. Firms in China first copied designs, then sourced parts, and finally built a factory and mass produced the car.
While some of that still goes on, leading Chinese automakers have moved on. They have been aided by sophisticated computerized design tools that allow them to do their own design and modeling, a phenomenon that is becoming more and more important as know-how gets embedded in tools.
Designs of what? Bodywork? Engines? Gearboxes? Engine management systems? Without an example, he might be describing a copied Toyota with different bodywork.
These days, if you ride around in some of the leading Chinese brands, you will find sophisticated engines, turbochargers, complex automatic transmissions, and high levels of interior detailing.
Yes, I’m sure you will: but are they copies? And could the author tell if they weren’t? There’s a sleight of hand at play here which makes me wonder if I’m being told a load of bollocks.
The Chinese government is using the transition to electric as a way to surmount the historical advantages of incumbent car companies and nations. It won’t be saddled by existing infrastructure for making internal combustion engines and old ways of working; it starts with essentially a clean slate.
This assumes electric cars aren’t some giant white elephant, hoovering up resources which would be better applied elsewhere. As I’ve argued before, without a major step change in battery technology, electric cars are a non-starter.
BMW recently announced plans to source batteries from Contemporary Amperx Technology Ltd. (CATL), and Volkswagen is focusing its electric vehicle development in China.
Is this because Chinese technology is wonderful or because their environmental legislation is non-existent, labour costs are low, and there are a billion potential customers outside the factory gate?
Tesla just announced plans for a new factory in China that will produce 500,000 vehicles a year.
Tesla announces grand plans on a weekly basis; few of them ever come to fruition. As an author of articles on electric vehicles, you should know this.
Chinese automakers and parts suppliers will harness the Internet in ways that haven’t been imagined in the rest of the world
Really? Those clever Chinese, eh? How will they go about this, then?
One of the things I wanted the students to see is how the Internet is evolving very differently in China, because of its “isolation” and the very different boundary conditions there. For example, Government regulation tends to come after a new business idea has developed in the market, rather than beforehand as is generally the case in the rest of the world.
So the Chinese – who lock down the internet more than anyone else – are at an advantage because they can develop new internet-based business ideas before regulations catch up with them, and this will give car manufacturers an edge…somehow. Like many great ideas, it’s obvious once explained.
Also, physical delivery in major Chinese cities is very inexpensive, typically costing just over $1. So it is remarkable how much Chinese consumers order things online – merchandise of course, but also lunch and al kinds of services.
Unlike in the US, Europe, and Japan where internet retail is a decade away and everyone traipses around shops. And what this has to do with car manufacturing is anyone’s guess.
We visited an automaker that offers a built-in WiFi hotspot with lifetime provisioning included.
Well that does it, I’m off to buy a Donfeng.
You can imagine the implications for turning the car into a platform. Connected and self-driving car technologies are a natural amalgamation of complementary technologies that China seeks to dominate.
I think the guy who wrote this has come from rural China where he rode a bicycle all day. Western-branded cars have been connected to the internet for years – my own comes with a built-in SIM card – and it can best be described as a solution searching for a problem. Other than the real-time update of traffic conditions, an online search function in the GPS, and some remote-controlled functions it is largely useless. When I bought the car in 2014 the brochure boasted I could update Twitter from the car. The other day I received an email asking if I wanted to install MS-Office in my car, presumably so I could compile spreadsheets from the outside lane of the Autoroute. Any other online services I need while in my car can be accessed from my phone: none of this is new.
While the American public has a world view of the global auto industry centered on North America, Europe, and Japan, we should pay more attention to what’s going on in China. That’s where a lot of the action is going to be coming from.
I’m wondering who paid this guy and how much.