New Delhi/Kolkata: If this was a decade or two ago, then I would have said a lot of distasteful things about then fledgling Chinese auto industry. Our first impressions of Chinese cars from that era had nothing in terms of even basic global levels of acceptability – be it design, engineering, reliability or safety. Cars presented were shoddily made, often designs were blatantly copied (some mainstream brands even lodged copyright infringement cases without much success). At the time, if one had asked me – I would have said the Chinese have no future out here (international automotive scenario).
How wrong I was to underestimate the enterprising Chinese. It took over 30 years for the Japanese to establish themselves as producers of quality merchandise. The Koreans with quicker than the Japs in that respect and the surprise of the lot is the Chinese who have come a long way from being cheap and cheerful to acceptable levels of competence
As a result, in less than two decades, the Chinese automotive scenario is totally different and unlike Korea or Japan, China’s automotive industry has developed extensively through foreign direct investment. This investment has come in the form of alliances and joint ventures between international automobile manufacturers and Chinese partners who are now reaping the success of this policy.
As ambitious they may be after capturing the domestic market (global #2 after USA), it’s not surprising that the confidence levels of cash-rich Chinese companies are at an all-time high. Carmakers like Geely now own brands like Volvo and Lotus, while Shanghai Automobile Industries Corporation (SAIC) now owns British brand Morris Garages (MG) which has made an impressive debut with the Hector SUV in India.
This comes as Chinese carmakers begin to flex muscles in the global arena. Although, markets in advanced countries are yet to be convince that Chinese produce can meet safety and emission standards of their countries, products from Chinese brands are beginning to be seen in South-East Asia, some Middle East markets and now India.
After the success of MG in India with the Hector, testing Indian waters are brands like Great Wall Motors (GWM) which launched two brands Haval and GWMe. Haima was the other Chinese brand making its presence felt at the Auto Expo in Greater Noida for the first time. Haval had an impressive stand featuring several of its mainstream models. Haval was launched in March 2013 in China and has been dedicating itself to building high quality products.
GWM is serious about investing in in India and has plans to launch a new energy brand-Great Wall EV. GWM also plans to invest in battery research and development and manufacturing in the country. The bug-eyed GWM R1 is a new product presented as a funky and practical electric city car with 350km driving range.
Haima started in January 1992 as Hainan Mazda Motor, a joint venture between the Hainan provincial government and Mazda to produce Mazda models for sale in China. The joint venture arrangement lasted until 2006, when Mazda’s share of Hainan Mazda was acquired by FAW Group so it is now a subsidiary of FAW. Most Haima models still incorporate Mazda technology.
From Haval’s stable, three models could make their way in the India market next year beginning with the Haval vision2025 saloon, H9 SUV and the smaller H6 SUV. Till now, the vision2025 has been presented in concept form and the carmaker wants to position it as “a global intelligent SUV in the new era”. This concept had its global debut at the Shanghai International Automobile Industry Exhibition.
Haval envisages that in the future, a car will become one of the most important mobility partners of people. vision2025 is an intelligent and smart electric SUV of the new era, which is built on the four pioneering concepts of hyper sensory visual design, autonomous interaction, full-scene ecological service and intelligent driving assistance.
The Haval F5 is the first model in the F Series, and it is positioned as the trendy and intelligent connected SUV, while the F5 is a compact SUV and would compete with Jeep Compass and compatriot MG Hector.
Haima had two models ̶ 7X and 8S on display.
The 8S is a 5-seater SUV while the 7X is a seven-seater MPV. “Innovation is a key pillar of HAIMA’s business strategy in India. This is reflected by a clear product strategy to enter the Indian market with its new avant-garde brand image with product offerings that showcase cutting edge technology. I am confident that HAIMA will continue its innovation journey in India, developing products that shape the future of India’s automobile transformation,”said Williams Dong, GM, Haima Automobile International Corporation. Haima hasn’t released details of its proposed launch in India.