Workers check auto parts at Geely's plant in Montevideo, Uruguay. XU ZIJIAN / XINHUA
Domestic producers increasingly focus on overseas markets, in bid to internationalize industry
Chinese carmakers are accelerating their global expansion plans, especially in countries along the route of China's Belt and Road Initiative.
Statistics from the China Association of Automobile Manufacturers show that more than 190,000 cars were exported in the first quarter of the year, 30.7 percent growth year-on-year.
Of these, 110,000 were sold to countries along the route.
The Belt and Road Initiative was proposed in 2013 with the aim of building a trade and infrastructure network connecting Asia with Europe and Africa along ancient trade routes.
Cui Dongshu, secretary-general of the China Passenger Car Association, said there is great potential for Chinese carmakers to develop in those markets, as the economy in many of them is on an upward trend.
State-owned Dongfeng Motor has released its overseas development plans, with those countries among the top priorities.
In five years, the carmaker is planning to launch 40 models in overseas markets and expand its international sales network to cover 971 dealerships. It has set an overseas sales goal of 150,000 cars by 2020.
A spokesman at Dongfeng said the company is proposing a new a global strategy of "going inside and upward", instead of merely "going out", which means becoming well established in overseas markets.
A 9 million plant built by Zhejiang Geely Holding Group is set to start production in Belarus, with a first-phase annual capacity of 60,000 passenger cars. The carmaker said vehicles produced at the plant will be mainly sold to Eurasian Economic Union countries.
Geely's first semi knocked-down facility in Belarus started production in 2013. It also has knocked-down plants in some other countries, including Sri Lanka and Egypt.
Geely sells about 20,000 cars a year in Egypt, nearly 9 percent of the country's automotive market.
Geely's Volvo is exporting large S90 sedans manufactured in Northeast China's Daqing plant to Ghent, Belgium.
As a distribution center, the city will help Volvo to achieve rapid growth in Europe and Asia alike, while contributing to the implementation of the Belt and Road Initiative.
Volvo has been exporting China-made S90s to the United States since April, according to Yuan Xiaolin, president and CEO of Volvo Car Asia Pacific.
"The exported products are identical to those sold here in terms of quality, and they demonstrate that China's automotive industry has entered a new era of global production.
"China-made vehicles are now able to compete in global markets to serve consumers worldwide," he said.
SAIC Motor has been exporting locally made Buick Envision SUVs to North America since last May.
The Shanghai-based company, which owns the MG and Roewe brands, has said it is making preparations to enter the US on its own.
Michael Yang, executive director of SAIC Motor's international department, said eventually the automaker aims to reach all markets, but at the moment it focuses on China and then Europe.
Yang made the remarks at a briefing at the Shanghai motor show last month.
Guangzhou-based GAC Motor is actively preparing to establish its research center in the US while conducting a preliminary study of the North American market.
"We will consolidate our leading position in Chinese car sales in emerging markets and accelerate our presence in the United States and Europe, which are traditionally seen as powerhouses in developing high-end automobiles," said Yu Jun, general manager of GAC Motor.
Yu made the remarks during an international distributor conference, held in late April in Hangzhou, capital of Zhejiang province.
According to Yu, GAC Motor's best-value cars will enter the North American market no later than 2019, after the company completes market surveys, obtains local certifications and communicates with potential dealers.