Auto Brands to Watch in the Chinese Market in 2014

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2013 has been a mixed year for auto brands in China, Ford for example have had an amazing year in which they overtook Toyota in terms of total sales and Volkswagen remains an untouchable juggernaut in Chinese eyes, with them becoming the largest car maker in terms of sales in the Chinese market, furthermore Volkswagen believe they are restricted by capacity which means they believe they can sell even more vehicles in 2014.

But let’s not focus on the  big brands in 2014, we should look at other brands beyond the headline grabbers that we have seen over 2013.

Fiat

Fiat have had a below par performance in 2013 with their sole line up of the Fiat Viaggio, but we should look at the facts; Fiat are hampered by a single product line up in a hotly contested market with products from every major and minor manufacturer, they also have a smaller distribution network but that is rapidly expanding.

What makes Fiat different for 2014? They have the handsome new Ottimo hatchback coming in what we expect to be the first quarter of 2014 as a locally made product. Chinese demand for cars is changing from the traditional sedan to more hatchback and wagon focus and with the handsome Fiat Ottimo, Fiat are likely to have a hit on their hands. Note that Fiat is also gaining major traction in its home city of Changsha where the Viaggio is made, sales sky rocketed 260% after a recent local auto show and the modest sized stand was mobbed by media.

Volvo

Volvo’s first Chinese factory in Chengdu is online and is currently busy pumping out China only Volvo S60L, next step is Volvo’s Daqing factory that will produce an unknown vehicle, likely the XC60 SUV.

Why is Volvo worth watching? The Swedish company has finally got its Chinese chips in line with products that Chinese actually want – stretched sedans, luxurious compacts and fast selling SUV’s, the only thing that is missing is an MPV, which if you believe the rumor mill is, an MPV is on its way.

Geely

Geely got its first taste of global sales in 2013 with increased international sales. Whilst Geely is trailing its local rivals on the international stage it is now well prepped with a strong brand line up to compete with the likes of Great Wall, Lifan, Chery and JAC, all of whom have raced ahead on the global stage.

Geely will forever be known as the company that bought Volvo giving it prestige as a low cost Volvo, even though at this stage the two are not even related in their engineering DNA – that will likely come at a later stage thanks to Geely-Volvo’s joint R&D facility in Sweden.

Beijing Auto

This is a company that has risen from post-world war two ashes only to dissolve again and then rise. Now they have a fairly decent arsenal of  comprehensive products based on the back of the Saab 93 and Saab 95 platforms, both of which have come to the market with impressive technology and equally impressive pricing, a 2.0T Beijing sedan producing 200bhp and based on the Saab 95 will set you back a mere 140,000RMB. At the same time Beijing also have their own Wrangler inspired Jeep, it’s not exactly priced competitively against other Chinese SUV’s it is a halo vehicle that has brought wide media attention to the brand.

Qoros

We cannot mention brands to watch without mentioning this all new international Chinese brand focused on providing technology and quality without any compromise. Qoros have the right product mix for the Chinese market and also high aspirations, with a promised to bring a new product to the market every six months.

On the international market Qoros will likely have a harder time owing to an advanced market that generally views new comers with an air of suspicion. MG’s follies in the UK only prove that Chinese cars that don’t have an extremely unique selling point will have a hard time – Great Wall on the other hand have found themselves a good niche with the demand for diesel low cost pick-up trucks picking up speed. To date, Qoros have entered the mighty Slovenian market which may seem miniscule on the grand scheme of things, but it is a strong test for the company on its European expansion.

Qoros’ next step would be to bring diesel engines to satisfy European demands, or smaller displacement ultra-frugal gasoline engines.

Any other brands worth watching? Let us know  your thoughts via the comment box.

About the author  ⁄ FrankF

Frank entered the automotive industry via his father's instructions. He grew up with cars around him, especially as his father was a major auto restorer, Frank's childhood was spent passing beers, tools and coffee to his father whilst he explained the ins and outs of engines. Frank now works in the Chinese car industry at a specific manufacturer.

5 Comments

  • January 3, 2014

    Me thinks you’ve been seduced by Nicholas Cage in the advert! I don’t think Beijing Auto have got the marketing know how to really capitalise on their vehicles. Plus whilst they look not bad the engineering underpinnings are really old.

  • Ash
    January 5, 2014

    Nick Cage made the best advert, ever.

  • dragin
    January 6, 2014

    GAC Independent, is one to watch. Only a little older than five years, it’s made significant strides worth noting in both safety and quality citations, as well as in expansion overseas. It appears to have been a good student of its successful Japanese partners.

  • Csaba
    January 7, 2014

    “Qoros have entered the mighty Slovenian market ”

    Its not Slovenian but Slovakian.
    They are two different countries.

  • dragin
    January 14, 2014

    GAC, and JAC too, deserves watching. Recently I was surprised to find that its claim to dominating the EV market in China is true. Dwarfed by BYD,SAIC and BAIC, It came out of no where to do that. Now it’s sure to enjoy favored son status in the eyes of Beijing.
    If it can just get that rust problem under control, and refrain from putting out any more Ford F150 knock-offs, it should do well with its diverse line-up of models.

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