Twenty Five Years On!
Other Thoughts

Twenty Five Years On!
Will China become the center of automobile production in the future? Some of us expect so!
Published by: All Car Central Publishing
Date published: 12/03/2013

Twenty Five Years On! GW

If I could turn the clock back twenty five years and was writing about successful car industries my choice would certainly have been Japan. At that time Japan was the shining example of commercial and industrial success. Employer/employee harmony that every American Management Consultant included in his or her presentation to concerned American business. The TV and radio economic "Talking Heads" used Japan as the ideal economic society that we should all strive for.

However...That was then, this is now. Japan is no longer the wonder kid on the block, in fact quite the reverse, in its place we now have China and its growing commercial industry as illustrated by the S.A.I.C. (Shanghai Automotive Industry Corporation), China's largest manufacturing company. It is also included in the worlds "Fortune 500", list of outstanding world companies, somewhere close to the top.

S.A.I.C has limited partnerships with other companies such as the American G.M Motors with declared policy to develop new markets in both China and Asia. There is a similar arrangement with V.W. currently producing a low cost series of utility vehicles that has proven to be quite successful. If you include these J.V. arrangements, production by S.A.I.C in 2012 was in excess of 4.5 million vehicles; furthermore it is expected to add a further million by the end of 2013. Even by today's standards these figures are unique especial for a country that thirty years ago imported the majority of the motor vehicles on China's roads...(Which also have under gone a major development period.

By the time you have finished reading this brief article, another thirteen miles of modern highway will have been completed somewhere in China! Contrary to some reports on the China Motor industry, they do export to overseas countries such as Asia, Russia, and South America. Example, in cooperation with V.W. who has several plants in South America, they are opening up a small but growing market for inexpensive utility vehicles in various South American countries. In the complicated 2005 sale and resale of the British Rover Corporation a few years ago which included the MG Marquee, the Indian company Tata obtained the rights to the Rover name which included the famous and certainly popular Land Rover. The same purchase also included Jaguar Motors (That is another interesting story for another time)

To overcome this name ownership problem S.A.I.C created a new brand name, "Roewe", that is featured on certain utility vehicles.. (A rose by any other name is still a rose!) Or something like that.

What "TATA", India is going to do with the Rover name is another question... As yet nothing. Jaguar is still being made in the UK at its original factory but there have been some comments in the Motoring Press regarding quality problems... (Not a new issue for this company as some of us with gray hair may recall). As mentioned S.A.I.C have the ownership of MG and have produced a range of small family cars under this banner. There is no sign of any rebirth of the once famous sports car, in fact S.A.I.C have made it quite clear that they see no potential for such a product and I suspect they are right when you consider the range of modern sports cars currently available, all tried and tested in the international consumer market. I am thinking of BMW.. Mazda.. Alfa Romeo, and Corvette just to mention a few.

Will China become the center of automobile production in the future? Some of us expect so!

But it is worth remembering that their principle markets are not North America or Europe, where competition and legal requirements are still strong for any product from either China or India to succeed Their market is the growing population of what we once called the second world markets and after that perhaps even the third world. One further thing is for sure their entry into the world automobile market will have a serious effect on the world price structure for vehicles. India is now producing a modest family car for less than three thousand U.S. dollars, not quite in the Mercedes range but showing that there is a waiting market even for cars without A/C or hot and cold whatever!

Did you know this?

I have been driving since the 1950s both in the US and Europe. In all those years I could never remember which side the filler cap might be when I hired a rental car. this last Christmas I was visiting the UK to see the family with a rental vehicle and without exception always seemed to end up in the wrong side of the fuel pump. This simply added to the frustration of paying almost nine US dollars for a gallon of fuel and driving on the wrong side of the road! Looking back to my driving days here I can say without exception that I usually forget where the gas filler cap might be, especially when I am driving my wife's car or one of my other toys. The procedure when I arrive at the pump is/was to stick my head out of the window, strain my neck and look, trying to see in the side mirrors and then usually get out of the car to find nine times out of ten that I am on the wrong side! When I returned my hired car I mentioned this to the young clerk behind the desk who looked at me with that look that only the young can express when dealing with a semi - senile individual three times their age! Without hesitation he asked me if I looked at the gas gauge when filling up. Sure I replied why? He then pointed out that if I look at the icon of a gas pump on the gauge I will notice that the handle of the gas pump is either pointing left or right. That is the side where the filler cap is located. In short if the handle points left that's were you put in the fuel or if its pointing right it's the other side!

In all my years of driving I never knew this and I would suspect that some of you fall into the same group. We learn something new every day even when you are past the three score and ten age marker like this scribe. One further observation on my recent trip. The hire car was a small European breed that could accommodate up to four adults and luggage. It had all the trinkets including A/C and could cruise along at a steady seventy / eighty MPH on the fast Highways of Europe. The on board computer indicated that my average MPG for the visit was 40 MPG and that included both highway and city driving. The secret has to be the six speed gear box that keeps the revs at a minimum on the highways. Yes I do think we should have cars such as this in the US despite the objection of some American motor manufactures to these vehicles. However, as long as we are dependent on automatic drive this can never happen. As a point of interest try hiring such a thing outside of North America and see the look that you get, not to mention the extra cost. When I see a sports car with automatic transmission I can't help but wonder...What's the point of driving a Corvette or similar without the joy of utilizing the gear shirt, changing down and hitting the gas pedal, that's what sports car are built for!!

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