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Chinese car brands only need more time, and with some “practice” will become the next great automotive superpowers with quality perceptions to rival even the neatest and tidiest Korean and Japanese models.
That’s what the Chinese carmakers want us to believe anyway, and many industry insiders would agree with them. I, however, don’t and I’ll tell you why.
As I’m sure you’re well aware, the Chinese are busy mass producing everything in sight and as a country China has the manpower and space to monopolise every industry known to man. Thing is, in many cases the product is copied from higher quality specimens made elsewhere in the world, and is often of inferior quality. Up until now this philosophy of churning out cheaper versions of everything by the millions and selling it in bulk has been well received. I mean, who wouldn’t opt for a packet of 100 plastic forks priced well below one single (higher quality) plastic fork made in Germany or the USA for instance?
The thing is, by supporting the factory in China that mass produces these forks, as well as the local entrepreneur importing the forks in bulk, we’re making a statement that quality is of little importance and eventually heavy-duty plastic forks will become extinct. I may have strayed from my original point a bit there, but what I’m asking is, at what point does China decide that it will start making better forks? It won’t because it’s doing just fine with substandard ones.
The Chinese car industry is very young, at least as far as exports to markets like ours goes, and it would take a brave man to assume that from China’s automotive offerings over the past four years or so, that the rest of Chinese automotive eternity will follow similar suit. I’ll go out on a limb and be that man.
Every Chinese car that I’ve ever seen, and I’ve seen a lot, are shoddy and that’s being kind. Some would argue that they’re getting better with time, and this is true to a degree, but even the best Chinese cheapie is still a far cry from the quality we expect from slightly more expensive Korean or Japanese equivalents. Why is this?
The Chinese have all the ingredients to make good quality cars right now. I’ve visited the state-of-the-art factories and seen the European-sourced tooling; so why are the vehicles being spat off these fancy assembly lines so flawed with inconsistent panel gaps, second-rate materials and general disregard for detail?
I would like to say that it’s not in the Chinese manufacturing nature, but my brand-new Apple iPhone throws a spanner into that argument. It’s made in China and it’s a technological marvel free of imperfection. How is it that a factory, probably not far from one making crappy cars, can mass produce such a perfect piece of electronica? I assume that there are people fanatical about quality checks (probably sent from Apple in California) constantly monitoring the assembly process. Why then, if China is so serious about breaking into world markets with its automobiles, can’t it employ people like these in its carmaking facilities?
The answer is because it doesn’t have to. When a Chinese car brand launches into a market like South Africa, determines the highest price acceptable for its inferior product and flogs it to you because you wanted a cheap new car, why would said brand be motivated to increase its quality perception?
I would have much less of a gripe if these Chinese cars cost less than they do. A Chinese scooter copied from a proper Italian one can be bought here at around 83 percent savings, and likewise a Chinese-built heavy-duty tipper truck costs around 35 percent less than a comparable German one in SA (granted scooters don’t suffer the same import tax as cars and trucks are brought in in semi-knock-down format).
At the recent Shanghai Motor Show I witnessed first hand hundreds of Chinese-made vehicles that were blatant rip-offs of models from more established brands. How does Geely get away with copying Suzuki’s SX4 and calling it an SX5? How does Great Wall Motors get away with plagiarising VW’s Amarok bakkie? This must be illegal, but more importantly, how are we supposed to take this booming new Chinese automotive industry seriously when it can’t even design a car on its own?
If one thing is for sure, it’s that these carmakers won’t stop. There’s been way too much money invested already, and with such valuable carrot dangling on the line the Chinese will continue to reach for it. All we can do is encourage better quality or cheaper pricing, and the only way we can do that is with wiser choices at our dealerships. Is the 15 percent you’ll save by buying a cheap Chinese copy of the real thing worth it in the long run? For many I suspect so. But don’t say I didn’t warn you. -Star Motoring
This correspondent clearly has not seen some of Geely's own designs.
Still driving my 3 year old double cab - no problem and paid below R100k with ac!!!!.....Bargain Will do so again
Driving my 3 year old double cab - no problem and paid below R100k with ac!!!!.....Bargain
All of you complaining of cheap chinese quality, flip over the keyboard or phone you're using and there's an 80 percent chance it's made in China. So how exactly is the quality poor? For future reference, China currently files for the second most patents after the U.S and will lead going into 2012. For you illiterate folks out ther e, patents denote a nation's innovation, not imitation.
I dont know what you getting so excited about, just dont buy the cars, nobody cares a hoot what you think.
In Germany i see alot of people buying products that will last them for 5 to 10 years or longer before they need to replace them. They pay more upfront for good quality and then keep it with care for as long as their real needs (not wisheswantswhat fashion dictates) are fulfilled. Thats why in their shops i hardly see poor quality stuff on their shelves since their consumers will never buy it. This is how to save over the long run and South Africans need to learn this. It does not make sense buying cheap poor quality products that break and forces you to make a repurchase with 2 years of use.
I would think from this that the real beneficieries of all this have been the more estasblished motor car manfacturers selling their old technology to the chinese at a premium. China is a developing country after all. Essentially chinese people embrace change,education and progress.Majority of their leaders are engineers. China today is very different from 5 years ago and so will it be in 5 years.With 1.4 billion it is no easy feat. But my feeling is they will " succeed " Not only Japan but also the USA went through the same experience. At least we chose not to pay high prices for average quality.
It will take years for Chinese domestic products to match those of other countries - as the author points out, the Apple stuff is made by Apple in China, using Apple standards, not Chinese standards. I had the pleasure some years ago of seeing the Terracotta Warriors in London and it was evident that even a few thousand years ago, the Chinese had a bulk production mentality and system. Just the quality back then was way better than today. WilliamR is correct too - wages are rising by around 15% a year in China and some companies are looking to Vietnam for lower cost, better educated workers.
Remind me again what high quality televisions, stereos, cellphones, PC's and electronics in general Europeans produce Jesse? Have fun beating off to your Telefunken thinking it's the bee's wax.
What are you angry about? Wake up please, We all need to start from a point. From production to high quality. The new home video coming out of Nigeria today is 40% better than those of 5years ago and beyond. Start some where and gradually head for perfection. Lets encourage our local producers to do same.
China's manufacturing is built on high volume, low margins. As real wages increase, the Chinese will move to higher margin products, meaning higher quality. This happened in Japan, Taiwan, Korea etc.
Correct me if I'm wrong, but the GWM is a rip off of the Isuzu KB and not the Amarok. One must realise that these copies are as close to the originals in quality as the sunglasses you buy at the traffic lights are to the original Raybans. Not even close!!!
Well, to be honest, i donnot know where you get the idea from, the sales figures of chinese originated cars are really picking up in most markets like australia, Newzealand, and most south american countries. I am pretty sure, when you look back in 5 to 10 years time, you will find this article is pretty naiive and full of cray and personal prejudice.
I think the price difference is a lot more than 15%
Good point, but aren't the other car manufacturers also fuelling the fire by supplying older generation parts to the Chinese companies. Most of these vehicles have older generation engines found in the rival brands. Is there a legal implication or are the manufacturers selling off old designs for a couple extra bucks?
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