Business / Auto China

Changan's big push overseas

By Hu Haiyan and Tan Yingzi (China Daily) Updated: 2013-03-13 16:53

"In the past, when Changan produced for other foreign companies or for joint ventures, such as Changan Ford, there wasn't much of a sense of fulfillment," Zhu says. "It is vitally important for a company to own its own brand and core technologies."

When Zhu went abroad for the first time to visit Japan in 1987, there was a huge gap between Changan and its foreign competitors. He said Suzuki produced about 800,000 cars a year at the time, while Changan made 200 cars annually. Today, the group now produces about 6 million autos, of which 4 million are under the Changan brand.

To develop its brand, Changan is setting up more research and development centers around the world. Since establishing its first global R&D center in Turin, Italy, in 2003, the company has established five more centers in Chongqing, Italy, Japan, the UK and the US. More than 90 percent of the employees at the overseas R&D centers are foreigners, most of them engineers. The overseas centers are mainly responsible for the R&D of Changan autos to be sold in the Chinese market. One of the Italian centers, Zhu says, provides about 80 percent of the design work.

Under its global research and development system, Zhu says, Changan can resolve issues quickly and efficiently.

"All the R&D issues can be discussed by all of the employees at every center. Issues can be resolved faster, saving a lot of time and energy," he says. "R&D is always our biggest focus and we will invest heavily in it because R&D strength is the only way for building long-term brands in the automobile industry."

Zhu says one of the biggest challenges for the Chinese company is to reduce emissions, and since the establishment of its R&D centers, the company has cut emissions by 40 percent through greener vehicles.

Currently the group has about 10 percent of 60,000 employees in its R&D branches. Collectively, the centers reportedly produce two patents a day.

Changan also will undertake mergers and acquisitions, though Zhu gave little in the way of details.

"We are aiming to purchase some overseas companies, including some in the EU and the US, especially those who produce automobile components," Zhu says.

He says setting up joint ventures overseas, such as the partnership between Changan and Ford, will be weighed. Zhu says that China's auto market can be the backbone for domestic brands like Changan.

"It is expected that there will be about a 10 percent increase in total industry revenue by 2015," Zhu says, "I am fully confident that it will take no more than 10 years for the Chinese automobile industry to catch up with or even surpass foreign automakers in terms of both sales and brand recognition. There is no doubt that Changan will definitely be one of them."

Contact the writers at and

Previous Page 1 2 Next Page

Hot Topics

Editor's Picks