With EU greenlight, Great Wall looks to expand
By Qin Danfeng
Great Wall Motor, the only Chinese carmaker granted approval to sell its cars throughout the European Union, is hoping to lead Chinese auto brands into the global market.
Wang Fengying, GW Motor's chief executive, told the Global Times Friday that the Chinese auto industry must build up the brand reputation of "Chinese cars" in the global market. At the just-finished National People's Congress (NPC), where Wang was a deputy, she proposed drawing up a plan for Chinese cars' branding.
Wang suggested the central government set up basic national standards for Chinese cars. "It is the way to change the idea that Made-in- China means cheap and bad quality," Wang said.
Zhong Shi, an independent auto analyst based in Beijing, said that as there is no third party to assess the quality in China, it is hard to tell whether Chinese cars are as good as foreign ones.
"Good or bad is just producers' and consumers' sense, not an objective judgment," Zhong said.
Although Wang admits there is no way for Chinese cars to compete with high-end foreign brands, such as BMW and Mercedes Benz, she is very confident in the quality of Chinese cars compared with other popular brands.
"There is no difference in quality between Chinese cars and foreign cars except differences in taste, marketing and brand reputation," Wang said. "In areas as simple as naming our cars in English, we still need to learn from our overseas competitors."
GW sold 225,000 cars in 2009, including over 50,000 to other countries.
Even with the shrunken overseas market because of the economic downturn, GW was still the top Chinese auto exporter in terms of total transaction value last year.
In January 2010, following the economic recovery, GW's exports rose 150 percent to about 3,000 cars in the single month.
Wang said that for the whole year export, the brand will do the best to maintain last year number and try to reach 80,000 cars. To make the brand better known, GW sent its team to the Dakar Rally this year and plans to attend annually from now on.
Wang said that instead of mergers and acquisitions, Chinese carmakers should work on increasing the added value of their own products.