It may be a spell before Chinese automakers are capable of turning out a globally competitive vehicle. That's the findings of a sprawling 200 page report by Bernstein Research. The group went through the trouble of purchasing two Chinese-made cars, importing them to Europe and disassembling them down to every last nut and bolt. The study also included in-depth interviews with CEOs at each of the major manufacturers, including Great Wall, Chery, Brilliance and SAIC among others. Researchers found that by and large, global partners aren't holding up their end of joint venture deals, with the vast majority of foreign automakers seemingly not taking the Chinese market seriously.

The one exception to that rule, according to Bernstein, is General Motors and SAIC. GM has pumped a staggering amount of cash into China, and as a result, SAIC seems leagues ahead of its peers on the design and engineering front. Speaking of engineering, the study found most Chinese cars to simply be reverse-engineered examples of foreign models, with the Toyota Corolla being the most popular. That's due in part to the fact that Chinese automakers spend $100 million a year on research and development on average. For comparison's sake, a company like Volkswagen or Toyota spends closer to $1 billion. The Truth About Cars has a closer look at the report's contents. You can find that writeup here.


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  • 65 Comments
      Bloomsbury
      • 1 Year Ago
      This is probably the most interesting thing I've seen on autoblog for months... well done Zach Bowman! Personally, I think a lot will depend upon other car makers being bought or sharing data with china. The industry I work in is very reluctant to even hire china workers because of leaks/espionage (it's been disastrous in other industries, such as fashion), so whilst they can copy cars by deconstructing them all they want, I think it'll be a while before they have original design/innovation talent on a par with European, Korean or US car manufacturers. Unless a chinese Jonathan Ive comes along, I just don't think there's the experience or education to rival established car makers.
      Yang
      • 1 Year Ago
      Unlike Japanese or Korean car manufacturers, China has a large domestic market of its own, with endless demand of low-end but cheap products. (think about smartphones - or shanzhaiji) Hardly any incentive for them to build and export something as good as Toyota Camry or Hyundai Sonata.
      s tom
      • 1 Year Ago
      I hope they don't get there before the US !!
        Lachmund
        • 1 Year Ago
        @s tom
        yeah...i also noted that the US just happened to achieve that goal about now, right?! cadillac ats comes to mind.
      Rich
      • 1 Year Ago
      Read this as: the US auto companies, you have sub-10 years... then you're gone.
      • 1 Year Ago
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      oRenj9
      • 1 Year Ago
      Catching up to the big players in a decade while only spending 10% of the money will be a pretty astounding achievement. The Chinese have a penchant for leapfrogging existing industry players. Taiwan went from producing inferior knock-off Japanese transistors to a serious player in the semi-conductor business in ten years, and within another decade they became a key player in the market. They have the infrastructure, the engineering talent and the market to pull this off.
      Jerry
      • 1 Year Ago
      Wonder what will happen to SGM and VW\'s Chinese branch when China finally catches up??? These wings year after year are cash cows for both companies.
      MacProMan
      • 1 Year Ago
      crappy cars from the land of fake food... I don\'t think they will convince me they make anything worth my hard earned $ they will likely never be competitive until they can actually make something that won\'t fall apart and most of all save your life in a wreck, cheap cars yield high death rates in accidents
        Phlegming Liberal
        • 1 Year Ago
        @MacProMan
        I remember when Hyundai's 1985 $4998 Excel was the laughing stock of the automotive world, look at where they're at now.
          nsxrules
          • 1 Year Ago
          @Phlegming Liberal
          28 years is a long time
        Lachmund
        • 1 Year Ago
        @MacProMan
        one lives in the land of fake food...the other one in the land of fake breasts.
          ZOZ
          • 1 Year Ago
          @Lachmund
          I would pick "fake breasts and real food" over "real breasts and fake food" at any given time :D
      • 1 Year Ago
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      • 1 Year Ago
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      nsxrules
      • 1 Year Ago
      I remember back in the late 90\'s they were saying the chinese would be selling \"competitive\" cars in the US withinin 5 to 10 years (~2004 to 2010). So I have doubts in 10 years they could sell a \"globally competitive\" car......
      Vergenbuurg
      • 1 Year Ago
      Hmmm... I doubt that... and I mean that by they're probably less than 5 years away. There are finally some home-grown cars that are neither knock-offs or completely based on a Western/Japanese platform... yeah, they might not be completely up to snuff, but they're making amazing progress. Would I consider buying a Chinese car if they were sold here in America in 5 years? Hmmm... that is to be seen, but I wouldn't rule it out at this point.
        rollie
        • 1 Year Ago
        @Vergenbuurg
        You might be able to buy one if you still can find a job.
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