Shenyang Brilliance JinBei Automobile Co (Brilliance Auto) is still on track to expand into overseas markets including Europe, despite the potential adverse impact of a European test failure last year, a senior company executive said.
Liu Pengcheng, a vice-president of Brilliance Auto, told XFN-Asia at the Beijing auto show that the company now has sales networks in more than 60 countries and over 300 first-tier dealers in overseas markets.
Brilliance Auto, a unit of Hong Kong-listed Brilliance China Automotive Holdings (Brilliance China), has set an export target of 30,000 units for this year, including Zhonghua sedans, Jinbei minibuses and light-duty vans. It exported 15,500 units in 2007, Liu said.
He did not provide a breakdown for exports to different regions.
"We will conduct a thorough market research in major regional markets including North America and Europe, and will then accordingly make a detailed (overseas) sales plan for 3-5 years," said Liu. Liu is also the general manager of Brilliance Auto's overseas sales unit -- Brilliance Jinbei International Sales Co -- which was set up a month ago.
"We are now in talks with many potential partners for expansion into overseas markets... and we are sure to strike several deals within this year," Liu said.
Brilliance China signed a contract with a Russian trade company in March last year to export 80,000 units of its Jinbei Haice minibuses to Russia over the next five years.
It also signed a contract in November 2006 with HSO Motors Europe, a German importer, for the supply of 158,000 Zhonghua Zunchi cars, the BS6 model, over five years. However, the car failed to pass the German ADAC automobile club crash test last year, winning only one out of a possible five stars, raising fears of its withdrawal from the market.
"We fell into a trap laid down by others," said Liu when asked about the test failure. He did not elaborate. He added that Brilliance Auto's dealers "are still very confident" about sales prospects in Europe.
Shortly after the German test failure, Brilliance China announced that it's BS6 sedan won three stars in a crash test conducted by Spain's Idiada Automotive Technologies SA. It also said the German ADAC's test is not compulsory and is non-governmental.
Brilliance China hopes to have an established export network in the US within five years, though some of its Zhonghua brand sedans could find their way into the US market as soon as next year.
Brilliance Auto's overall sales in 2007 stood at over 300,000 units, up from210,000 sold in the previous year.