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Chinese Automaker Geely Aims To Expand Entrance Into Western Europe

Autoparts Geely, China's largest privately-owned automaker, this week announced that it intends to move into the Italian auto market with online ordering. Geely will become the second major automaker to enter the Italian market after Great Wall, which entered Italy in 2006 with its Haval SUV, and recently received unrestricted sales rights throughout the EU for two of its sedans.

Geely's news regarding its expansion into Italy comes just weeks after the company announced that it soon plans to enter the UK market with its Emgrand EC7 sedan, an economy car that it plans to sell under its own brand with a price tag of 10, 000.

While Geely still remains largely unknown in the highly-competitive western European car market, the company has had interests in the UK and the continent for several years. Geely Holding Co., the carmaker's parent company, acquired Volvo in 2010. Geely has also been partnered with Manganese Bronze Holdings since 2007, and currently exports semi knock-down kits for the iconic British "black taxis."

So far, Chinese automakers have had spotty track record with their own brands in developed car markets. Although several have seen success in the emerging markets -- such as Africa, Southeast Asia, the Middle East and Africa -- doubts about safety, efficiency and design quality have so far been cited as major obstacles standing in the way of penetrating car markets in the West's largest economies. For example, Brilliance, a Chinese automaker partnered with BMW , failed in its bid to enter the highly-competitive German market (the company sold only 502 of its mid-sized BS4 and BS6 sedans in Germany between 2007 and 2009) following poor crash results.

But despite previous failures and what will undoubtedly be a hard road ahead winning the hearts and minds of foreign car buyers in certain key markets, many Chinese automakers still have their eyes on the West, where they hope to attract customers with inexpensive, fuel efficient small car offerings. Chery, BYD and Roewe, all three of which are major names in the Chinese car world, have plans to start selling vehicles in the EU and/or North American soon.

Somewhat ironically, the move abroad into crowded Western markets comes just as the domestic Chinese auto industry begins to feel the squeeze of increased competition in a cooling local market. Although China overtook the United States as the world's largest car market two years ago, auto sales growth last year slowed to a tenth of the pace seen in 2010. While Chinese demand still remains high relative to other countries, new and established car brands continue to accelerate their focus on China as the world's top growth market.


By The China Perspective - China is one of the world largest economies, as well as one of its fastest growing. Despite its size and influence on the world economy there remains a vast information deficit of English language economic n...  

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