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Changan seeks top 10 global sales status in coming 5 years

Updated: 2015-06-01 07:16
By Li Fusheng (China Daily)

Automaker looks to new-energy cars, autonomous driving to achieve goals

Chinese automaker Changan Automobile has an ambitious dream of becoming a global top 10 manufacturer by sales within five years, with its major driving forces being new-energy vehicles and autonomous driving.

Vice-president Li Wei said the automaker and its joint ventures expect to sell at least 4.5 million units in 2020.

The company sold 2.54 million units in 2014, still far behind Toyota, which topped the list of automakers worldwide by selling more than 10 million vehicles that year.

Changan believes new-energy vehicles will become a key driver of sales in the next few years as the sector is gaining momentum this year and recently appeared as a key part of the State Council's industrial plan.

The automaker is planning to invest 18 billion yuan ($2.9 billion) in the sector in the next decade, believing that such vehicles will account for about one-tenth of its goal.

"We have already received orders for 5,000 new-energy vehicles this year," Li said, adding that Changan will offer at least 34 new-energy models by 2025.

The big chunk of sales will still be gasoline-powered vehicles. While some analysts suggest Changan is aiming too high in an already slowing market, the automaker is confident.

Changan sold more than 1 million units in the first four months of 2015, a 16 percent surge year-on-year and a stark contrast to the industry average growth rate of 2 percent.

Among those, sales of Changan's self-developed vehicles accounted for nearly 400,000 units, becoming the second-most popular brand in the Chinese market, with the first being Germany's Volkswagen, according to consulting firm IHS.

Li said what contributes to the company's rosy picture is its focus on design and quality. "We want to make sure our cars are good-looking, solidly built and comfortable."

That focus is obviously working. Changan's CS75 SUV is so popular that prospective owners are now waiting for two or three months to buy one.

Changan's emphasis on quality has also won the respect of its joint ventures. Changan-Suzuki is producing Changan's self-developed Benny model at its plants.

"That means they accept our quality standards," said Li.

Technology such as autonomous driving is expected to become the company's competitive edge.

Li said autonomous driving is an inevitable trend of the auto industry as it will improve customers' driving experience.

"Statistics show 90 percent of traffic accidents are the result of human errors, while autonomous driving can avoid such errors," said Li.

Changan cars have already shown their ability to self-park and race at high speeds without a driver in test conditions and Li said they would be fully automatic by 2025.

That is roughly the timeframe major European auto giants have set for their autonomous vehicles to hit public roads.

Yang Dayong, Changan's director of public relations, said the automaker's technological edges are based on its long-term focus on quality systems.

"We started making passenger vehicles more than a decade ago but we had little influence in the industry until our Eado hit the market in late 2012.

"It was the first result of our decade-long effort in building our quality systems. Since then, Changan has been offering a constellation of star products," said Yang, showing a picture on his smartphone of a Changan Raeton next to the airplane that took recently Premier Li Keqiang to Chile.

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