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China Daily Website

Car workers steer way to new heights

Updated: 2013-11-25 07:50
By Cecily Liu and Zhang Chunyan in London ( China Daily)

"In comparison, Chinese cars aren't perceived to have the same level of quality, because a lot of the brands are young. But Chinese cars are improving. When Chinese car manufacturers show their latest products at auto shows, they are seen as great products too."

Guillaume Saint, senior director of China automotive at the research organization TNS, says some Chinese car makers are trying to compete on price - and target the lower end of the market.

"They are very different from foreign car brands that stress their quality to target upper segments and more demanding customers," Saint says.

Chris Bryant, president of Chery Jaguar Land Rover, says delivering consistency of quality is a challenge the joint venture faces but, luckily China's car components industries are now maturing, so it is easier to build a quality local supply chain than it was a few decades ago when the first foreign car brands arrived in China.

The 1.1 billion pound ($1.6 billion) Chery Jaguar Land Rover project was announced last year.

The two partners plan to build a new factory in Changshu, near Shanghai. Exactly what car will be made there is yet to be announced, but 130,000 are expected to roll off the production line each year. It will become Jaguar Land Rover's first manufacturing base outside Britain. At its only other factory, in India, cars are only assembled.

The first Sino-Western automotive joint venture was set up in 1984 between Beijing Jeep Corporation and American Motors Corp. The joint venture has since changed hands several times and is now owned by Beiqi Foton Motor Co and Daimler AG.

Other joint ventures with Chinese companies include FAW Group Corporation with Volkswagen, formed in 1991, and Brilliance Auto with BMW AG, formed in 2003.

Last year, 14.68 million passenger vehicles were sold in China, 6.8 percent more than in the previous year, the China Passenger Car Association says. In the same period, 14.5 million vehicles were sold in the US and 12.5 million in Europe.

It is important for Chery Jaguar Land Rover, with such great opportunities, to maintain high standards through staff training, investing in research and development and creating a good supply chain, Bryant says.

Although Chery is an established brand in China, it is just 16 years old. Jaguar Land Rover was formed through a merger of two British brands founded in 1905 and 1922. "They are still learning how to launch products and build brands," Bryant says.

One of the core qualities Jaguar Land Rover is taking to China is the culture of the organization, something its competitors cannot copy.

"Jaguar Land Rover is just a big family at the end of the day," Bryant says. "We act as a family. As we expand into the global area, we add to that family, so making our Changshu factory a part of our family."

To help the Chinese trainees adapt to Liverpool and improve communication, Jaguar Land Rover has sought help from Chinese Wellbeing, a local community organization.

In September, Jaguar Land Rover organized a big celebration for its Chinese trainees during the Mid-Autumn Festival, an occasion that Chinese usually celebrate with family.

This care between colleagues and pride of working together is deeply felt by some of the Chinese staff on training.

Wang Pingyang, a Chinese trainee, says the training program has been very supportive. It has allocated a mentor to every trainee, increasing the chances to learn, he says.

"From what I have seen, workers in Britain are very dedicated and proud of their work. They want to do their best. I think dedication is an area in which Chinese workers fare poorly. I want to take this good attitude back to China and teach it to many more of my Chinese colleagues."

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