Chinese automakers and their quest to conquer the world

There is a very famous idiom that goes something like, and I am paraphrasing, “chalay to shaam tak, nahi to chand tak” and mostly chinese products are attached to this sentiment. It is fair to say some of the Chinese products have a huge asterisk with them when it comes to their quality and longevity. But there is one thing buying a chinese table lamp for 150 rupees that is going to die in a month compared to a Chinese SUV that is worth 7 or 8 million rupees.

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But it is also a reality that the Chinese auto industry is on a rise and they are rapidly expanding internationally as well. Pakistanis who have been to Gulf countries would have seen an abundance of various Chinese passenger vehicles in these last few years. 

GAC GN8 at Dubai International Motor Show 2019

Similarly, Chinese companies like MG and GWM have been rapidly increasing their market share in Australia and New Zealand. MG was placed at a forgettable 30th spot in 2018 in Australia whereas now it is in top 10; 7th spot.

Among the top Chinese companies with the most sales, seven of them are already here in Pakistan. Those seven brands are:

  1. Changan
  2. Geely
  3. GWM
  4. SAIC
  5. Chery
  6. FAW
  7. Dongfeng

The names are listed according to the latest sales figures of these brands; Changan being on top and Dongfeng being at the bottom.

Changan makes Oshan, Alsvin and minivan. Geely is the parent company of Proton Malaysia that makes Proton X70 and Saga. GWM, which stands for Great Wall Motors, makes Haval H6. SAIC owns MG nameplate and makes HS and ZS. Chery Pakistan only recently launched Tiggo 8 Pro and Tiggo 4 Pro. FAW sells V2 in Pakistan along with an X-PV minivan. Dongfeng makes DFSK (Dongfeng Sokon) Glory 580 and 580 Pro. 

Two main selling points of most Chinese vehicles are their comparatively low prices and the amount of features they offer compared to their competitors. Take Proton X70, Tiggo 8 Pro, and Changan Oshan X7. They cost Rs 5,750,000, Rs 6,599,000, and Rs 6,350,000 respectively. Now these prices are seriously competitive when you compare it to something like Honda Civic RS which is priced at Rs 6,649,000. 

When you compare all the features these cars come with, you realise that they are more bang for your buck. Some are even capable of some level of autonomous driving; from lane keep to even auto parking. H6, Tiggo 8 Pro and Oshan X7 all come with some or all ADAS features. ADAS stands for advanced driver aid system. The role of ADAS is to prevent deaths and injuries by reducing the number of car accidents and the serious impact of those that cannot be avoided.

It includes,

  • Lane Departure Warning
  • Blind Spot Monitoring
  • Adaptive Cruise Control
  • Front Collision Warning
  • Rear Collision Warning
  • Autonomous Emergency Braking
  • Traffic Sign Distinguishing
  • Intelligent High Beam Control

So on paper at least, all these Chinese vehicles offer more value than most established names.

And this brings us to the phrase I mentioned earlier, as well as the last two words of the line above. There is a reason why there are established brands, as well as the unfortunate tag of, “China ka maal, chale to shaam tak, nahi to chand tak” because these Chinese brands have not established themselves as reliable and world-leading brands like Japanese, Koreans, and Europeans have done. 

Honda Civic RS vs Chery Tiggo 8 Pro: Which car offers more value for money?

Koreans made some horrible and poorly designed vehicles at the start of the time. Now they are one of the most renowned brands as well as market leaders. Chinese carmakers have not gone through that phase, it seems. It looks like they just popped up with fancy and flashy looking cars out of nowhere. 

There is only so much you can learn from R&D. Real world testing is something completely else. Toyota Hilux has made its name being one of the toughest vehicles on earth by being tested by real customers for decades. Toyota took all that knowledge and improved their products. Now the Toyota name is synonymous with reliability. But can we say the same thing about these top performing Chinese vehicles? Have any of the Chinese vehicles been through war-torn countries and came out unscathed? 

And now comes the point whether you are brave enough to spend your money on relatively unrenowned vehicles with little to no history just because it looks good on paper, or are you going to play safe and buy something that has been tried and tested throughout the world.

Chinese vehicles do sound like a bargain. But is that bargain going to haunt you in the future?

Let us know what you think in the comments section below.

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