Vol. 5 Num 549 Mon. December 12, 2005  

China auto exports to challenge world's big car makers

China's domestic auto market was meant to be a pot of gold for the world's top car makers but export strategies pursued by Chinese companies could soon turn the tables on the multinationals, analysts say.

Growing concerns for international car makers about a potential flood of cheap Chinese cars came last week with official data showing China's vehicle exports exceeded imports for the first time.

Exports reached 135,000 units in the first 10 months of this year, 7,000 more units than were imported.

Although the export market is still in its infancy in China, accounting for some 2.0 percent of the total production, Chinese startups such as Geely, Chery and Jiangling are pursuing aggressive export strategies that aim to challenge global players over the next 20 years.

The Chinese companies currently export vehicles mainly to Africa, the Middle East or Southeast Asia.

But by 2007 Chinese cars are expected to begin selling in the United States, while some are already available in Europe.

Chery shocked markets in January with a deal to sell its passenger cars in the United States, the world's largest market and where the giants -- General Motors, Ford and Chrysler -- are already under siege from Asian competitors led by Toyota of Japan.

Geely, China's largest private auto maker, also announced in September it planned to boost annual output to two million cars by 2015.