Business / Auto China

Automakers map out sales plans in Africa

By Wang Chao (China Daily) Updated: 2013-05-14 13:47

Dong Yang, vice-chairman of the China Association of Automobile Manufacturers, said that though Chinese companies don't have recognizable brand names, customers in most of the destination markets are becoming more price-sensitive in recent years due to the financial crisis. All these aspects offer rosy prospects for Chinese automakers, he said.

In 2007, when BYD started exporting vehicles, there was hardly any difference between its domestic and export models. "The only difference in those days was the country name on the brochure. But now we know that this is just not possible and that we have to design vehicles specifically for individual markets," Ho said.

Changing customer preferences are another reason why companies have chosen to tailor Africa-specific vehicles. While Russian customers love big, bulky SUVs and require seats that can withstand extreme cold, vehicles for the Middle East market tend to be models with big engines, leather seats and a sharp finish.

"For the emerging markets, we focus more on the value-for-money models, while in the mature markets, we focus on environmental friendly models," Ho said.

BYD electric vehicles are already sold in mature markets such as the United Kingdom, Israel and Poland. Ho hopes that electric vehicle exports will increase substantially in the next five years, with Africa having a major say in overall revenues.

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