That China has its heart set on becoming one of the globe’s automotive powers is hardly news. Nor is it untrodden ground to suggest that the nation is exhibiting an exponentially frightening learning curve in the industry. The latest development, according the New York Times, is the pursuit of the wholesale purchase of a competitor’s factory in order to move it brick-by-brick back to the motherland.
China’s Lifan group, which is looking to sell in Europe in 2008 and America the year after, is working with the Communist Party to bid a Brazilian engine plant facility from DaimlerChrysler and BMW. The purchase (and subsequent 8,300 mile relocation) would jumpstart ’s powertrain fortunes, which to this point have been something of an Achilles heel.
(More details after the jump)
Far from a tired old dinosaur of a facility, the Campo Largo Brazilian plant was erected in the late 1990’s with a $500 million dollar price tag. It presently produces the 1.6-liter 16-valve Tritec mill (as seen in the MINI Cooper), but could likely be adapted to other sizes and configurations. The joint-venture agreement between DCX and BMW expires at the end of 2007, which appears to open the door for the Chinese government and Lifan to buy the factory.
Lifan is the only bidder on the plant, and would like to move the whole kit-and-caboodle in time to begin churning out new engines by 2008. That strikes as an ambitious target, but for a country whose laborers toil 16 hours a day, 7 days a week, it is likely within the realm of plausibility.
Should one of America's domestic automakers shutter a plant that's to China's liking, expect the nation to be among the first in line for bidding... and perhaps not to move it at all.
[Source: The New York Times]