Chinese, German carmakers redefine cooperation models

Updated 2017-07-05 14:55:06 China Daily

New energy vehicle markers are redefining the pattern of cooperation between Chinese and German carmakers, said China News Services on Tuesday citing an industry insider on Tuesday. [Special coverage]

China's electric car startup NextEV set up its global design center in Munich, Germany, two years ago with 16 employees.

Now the center has more than 100 staff members who come from more than 20 countries including China, Germany and Britain, Zhang Hui, general manager of NextEV (Germany) told China News Services.

German employees account for a quarter of the total while Chinese employees take up only a tenth, and the working language is English, according to Zhang.

The company has launched three car models that made a splash in the industry: the pure electric supercar NIO EP9, the autonomous electric concept car NIO EVE, and the first volume model NIO ES8 SUV.

"We do not have the problem of 'Made in China' or 'Made in Germany'. We hope to utilize global resources to provide consumers with the best products," said Zhang.

German auto company Volkswagen AG rolled off its first car in China back in 1983. Now China has become German carmakers' largest market, overtaking the United States and the German home market itself. Of every two Volkswagen's new cars, one is shipped to China.

"The model of cooperation between Chinese and German new energy vehicle makers is different from what it was more than two decades ago," Wu Mei, general manager of Ningbo Joyson Electronic Corp's subsidiary in Europe, said.

In the past, the German side contributed technologies, while the Chinese pooled funds and explored the market, he added.

For some Chinese car companies that conducted research and development, the main purpose is to localize international technologies, he noted.

"The pattern will be changed by new energy vehicle markers," he said.

Preh GmbH, a German auto component company under Wu's parent company Ningbo Joyson Electronic, has recently announced move to provide battery management system for Mercedes Benz's 48V micro hybrid electric vehicles. The battery management system is crucial for connecting vehicle power battery with electric cars.

Like NextEV, many Chinese companies went to Munich for R&D or design centers. In June, Chinese materials company KDX Group launched its Europe composite materials R&D center in Munich, to provide lightweight solutions for vehicles.

Also in June, Beijing Automotive Group Co Ltd signed a framework agreement with Daimler AG to strength strategic cooperation in new energy vehicles.

Chinese and German car makers should work together in R&D and by working together, they can stand out in the new round of challenges, said Wu.

"We need to work together to make the market bigger," said Zhang, calling for closer cooperation to complement each other's demand.

Cooperation between Chinese and German new energy vehicle makers should be established on mutual respects and benefits, said Wang Weidong, commercial counselor at the Chinese embassy in Germany.

He called on German companies to grasp the huge market opportunities and have pragmatic cooperation with Chinese carmakers.

China sold 507,000 NEVs last year, the most in the world for a second year and up 53 percent from 2015, according to the China Association of Automobile Manufacturers.

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