China's Changan Automotive consolidates UK operations
Updated: 2016-02-04 21:03
By Wang Mingjie(chinadaily.com.cn)
Xu Liuping, chairman of China Chang'an Automobile Group Corp, speaks at the opening ceremony of its new Birmingham base. [Photo by Wang Mingjie/chinadaily.com.cn]
Changan Automotive, headquartered in Chongqing, China, this week formally opened its new UK research and development center in Birmingham Business Park in Solihull, consolidating its Nottingham and Fen End bases into one location whilst also allowing for future growth.
The automotive manufacturer is one of the first few Chinese companies to pioneer research and development centres in Europe to develop cutting-edge technology, giving it a key advantage in global competition.
Changan has joint ventures with Ford Motor Co, Suzuki, PSA Peugeot-Citroen, Volvo and Mazda, as well as manufacturing its own mass produced small cars and light trucks in China.
The company has seven R&D centres around the world, including four in Italy, Japan, the USA and the UK. The UK base, which was established in 2010 at the University of Nottingham, specializes in advanced powertrain technology design and development.
Over 900,000 Changan branded automobiles were sold in 2015 and was once again the best-performing domestic own brand manufacturer in terms of passenger automobile sales, according to a report by Gasgoo Automotive News, a platform that specializes in providing China automotive marketing information to the global market.
"Changan is a relatively new player in the global automotive industry but we managed to catch up and become China's top 1 in own-brand vehicles sales within the shortest period of time by utilizing the least resources," said Xu Liuping, chairman of China Chang'an Automobile Group Corp, at the opening ceremony of its new Birmingham base.
Xu also said Changan remains top in R&D capabilities among automotive industry in the Chinese market for the last ten years.
Whilst there has been a slight adjustment in the Chinese automotive industry in 2015, with overall growth of 2 percent in the whole industry, Xu is very pleased that Changan still managed to grow 40 to 50 percent on own-brand vehicle sales last year.
Bob Sleigh, Leader of Solihull Council, welcomed Changan's relocation, saying "Our region and reputation as a global centre for excellence for the automotive sector will be enhanced by world-class company such as Changan UK."
"Our region economy is one of the most dynamic economies in Europe and one of its strengths is its economic diversity. However, in one sector we are globally recognized – the automotive sector. We are world class centre for automotive manufacture, research and development," Sleigh added.
Sleigh said that Solihull region holds 25 percent of all the UK automotive production and 60 percent of automotive research and development output. Changan's new site will house the UK head office of its Engine, Powertrain, Transmission and Research & Development divisions as well as support functions.
This move, which met with the support of its highly skilled and committed workforce, will also allow Changan UK access to some of UK's best automotive engineers and permit it to develop links with leading universities in automotive research as it continues in its drive to develop vehicles that people want to own, Xu says.
Changan, one of the biggest car manufacturers in China, currently employs nearly 50,000 people worldwide and is affiliated to the state-owned China South Industries Group Corporation.
In 2014, Changan sold 2.54 million vehicles including its joint venture sales. From January to May 2015, the company sold a total of 1.25 million vehicles, and Xu is very confident that it will exceed 2014's sales.