Employees work at a production line of Dongfeng factory in Chengdu, Sichuan province in September last year.(Provided to China Daily)
Dongfeng Motor has unveiled its first research and development studio named after an individual, reflecting the Chinese auto giant's commitment to its innovation-driven strategy.
Auto Fan studio, situated in Dongfeng's Shiyan, Hubei province production base, is led by Fan Yue. The auto research veteran has worked for the company for over 30 years and secured almost 100 commercial vehicle-related patents.
"The cars I make are meant to break the rules. How to lead the market with innovation and advanced technology is my way of work," said Fan, who goes by the screen name 'my truck is nonmainstream' online.
Zhu Yanfeng, board chairman of Dongfeng Motor, announced that Fan will choose his own research areas and receive an independent budget.
"We want to enable talented professionals to work according to their own interests, instead of uniformly examining key performance indicators. No innovation means no great enterprise," said Zhu.
He added the company would accelerate the implementation of its innovation-driven strategy, constantly improving its technological innovation capacity and competitiveness. Zhu explained his aim is to build a world-leading automobile workshop.
Zhu further disclosed that in the next five years, Dongfeng will focus on the five concepts of lightweight, electric, intelligent, connected and sharing.
Dongfeng is a leading manufacturer of automobiles and spare parts in China. In 2016, it produced 4.2 million vehicles, with sales revenue reaching 571.8 billion yuan (.97 billion).
Data from the company show that it invested 76.7 billion yuan in science and technology activities over the past five years. Just last year, its investment totaled 19.7 billion yuan, accounting for more than 7.2 percent of sales revenue. As a result, Dongfeng obtained 7,043 valid patents in 2016.
Yang Bo, a technician at Dongfeng's engine research center, said that the company has invested significantly in researching applications for the vacuum pressure casting process, as well as in developing new materials such as carbon fiber and basalt fiber. This has helped to reduce the vehicles' weight, but also "greatly improves overall performance", Yang said.
Zhao Fuquan, professor and director of Tsinghua University's Automotive Research Institute, praised Dongfeng's innovation strategy. He said he had not expected the company to catch up with the latest tech trends in such a short time.
"I want to especially give Zhu a thumb-up for his emphasis on manufacturing process know-how. It looks easy, but is vital for innovation," Zhao said.