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How China turned its automobile industry from ‘copy’ into a global ‘player’


China’s automotive industry hasn’t been growing for too long, but over the past 20 years, it has managed to rise, changing 180 degrees from specializing in ‘copying’ other brands to becoming the leading name in the industry..

In a new YouTube video, renowned automotive designer Frank Stephenson made explanations with the timeline of the Chinese automotive industry.

To demonstrate the crisis that the Chinese car market was experiencing in the early 2000s, Stephenson looked at a number of vehicles that were not only oriented towards the West for inspiration but were essentially rooted in their design.

For example, Shuanghuan SCEO SUVs produced over 10 years ago are even more terrible when ready to use the hardware of the 3rd generation Toyota Land Cruiser Prado (clearly shown by the headlights and the stature of the car’s nose) hybrid with the design of the first BMW X5, even more difficult to distinguish the two cars themselves.

How China turned its auto industry from copy to global player
This SCEO is even bolder when ready to put the BMW logo on the car while adding a few details such as heat dissipation or the shelf.

Contrary to what you might think, Chinese consumers are not fans of imitation designs, which has actually caused some manufacturers to go bankrupt due to the lack of sales.

Customers were longing for an original car design, but it wasn’t until the Chinese brand Chery released the A3 Sedan designed by Pininfarina in 2008 that consumers were satisfied. There is a nameless design but this car has sold very well and is a big turning point for the Chinese automobile industry.

How China turned its auto industry from copy to global player
The Chery A3 is a major milestone in the Chinese automotive industry.

Fast forward into the modern era and manufacturers like BYD can make a difference in the market by offering unique designs, while having design language embedded throughout their entire range.

The largest electric vehicle manufacturer in China BYD said that since last month it has stopped producing vehicles using internal combustion engines and is now only producing pure electric vehicles and plug-in hybrids.

“In the future, BYD will focus on pure electric vehicles and plug-in hybrids in the automotive sector,” the company said in a statement filed with the Hong Kong Stock Exchange on March 3.

BYD will not completely discontinue the production of petrol engines as its small, high-efficiency engines will continue to be used in plug-in hybrids. The move is in response to Beijing’s commitment to boost green energy consumption to bring carbon emissions to peak levels by 2030.

BYD is among six automakers, including Volvo, Ford, General Motors, Mercedes-Benz, Jaguar Land Rover, who signed up for a global campaign to phase out vehicles using internal combustion engines by 2040.

Other manufacturers such as Hongqi began recruiting famous designers in the world of luxury automobiles such as Giles Taylor of Rolls Royce and Walter De Silva of Volkswagen.

How China turned its auto industry from copy to global player
Hongqi has models with luxurious designs no less than Rolls Royce.

Not only have there been great strides in the styling and engineering of Chinese vehicles, but they have also grown enormously. For example, the Chinese-made Nio EP9 is now the fastest electric car to ride around Nurburgring with a lap time of 6 minutes 45.9 seconds.

Perhaps the most interesting of the vehicles produced in China is the Wuling Mini EV, which is only about $4,500 and currently sells more than Tesla Model 3 in the domestic market.

Stephenson ended his video by emphasizing that he could not be trusted to witness the growth of the entire Chinese automotive industry, from copying design from other brands to becoming a formidable force, which is being appreciated globally.

By Nhip song Kinh te

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