German carmakers optimistic about Chinese market, green development

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This photo taken on May 8, 2024 shows a scene at the roll-off ceremony of the 6 millionth car produced by BMW Brilliance Automotive (BBA) in Shenyang, northeast China's Liaoning Province. [Photo/Xinhua]

A BMW i5 electric car rolled off the assembly line on Wednesday in northeast China's Shenyang, the capital city of Liaoning Province, marking the 6 millionth car produced by BMW Group's joint venture in China, BMW Brilliance Automotive (BBA).

This came just 15 months after the joint venture's 5 millionth car was produced.

Less than half a month ago, the German auto giant announced an additional investment of 20 billion yuan (about 2.8 billion U.S. dollars) in its production base in Shenyang.

The investment will be used for upgrading as well as technological innovation at the Dadong plant of BBA, which is expected to lay the foundation for the localized manufacturing of BMW's new generation of models, known as NEUE KLASSE, in 2026.

Cementing their market, research, and future endeavors in China, an increasing number of overseas-funded enterprises, such as BMW Group, are optimistic about the Chinese new energy vehicle (NEV) sector, injecting continuous investments and seizing more opportunities in China.

The Volkswagen Group has established its largest research and development center outside of Germany in China, focusing on the development of intelligent connected vehicles.

The success of overseas-funded enterprises in China is inseparable from the country's super-large-scale market. China's NEV market is far from saturated and will continue to maintain a faster and stronger growth momentum compared to the European and American markets, according to Ferdinand Dudenhoeffer, director of the Center Automotive Research Institute in Bochum in Germany.

In 2023, China's automobile production and sales had reached 30.2 million and 30.1 million vehicles, respectively, representing respective year-on-year increases of 11.6 percent and 12 percent. Among these, the production and sales of NEVs reached 9.6 million and 9.5 million, respectively, up 35.8 percent and 37.9 percent year on year.

China's automobile market has ranked first globally in terms of both production and sales for 15 consecutive years, with the production and sales of new energy vehicles ranking first globally for nine successive years. China also exported a record high of 4.9 million vehicles in 2023, a year-on-year increase of 57.9 percent.

Given these achievements, the Chinese market clearly shines brightly as a beacon of opportunity on the global stage.

In 2023, BMW had managed to deliver over 375,000 electric vehicles worldwide, a year-on-year increase of 74.2 percent, including approximately 100,000 electric vehicles delivered to China. Volkswagen Group delivered approximately 191,800 electric vehicles to the Chinese market in 2023, a year-on-year increase of 23.2 percent.

Currently, China's manufacturing industry is accelerating its transformation and upgrading towards high-end, intelligent, and green development, creating more development opportunities and attracting foreign investment in high-tech fields.

For many foreign automobile companies, China is not only the world's largest single market but also an important source of innovation. For example, BMW Group has established its largest research and digitalization system outside of Germany in China.

Likewise, Mercedes-Benz has also made strides with innovation in China. In 2023, Mercedes-Benz's sales in China had amounted to 765,000 vehicles, accounting for 29.6 percent of Mercedes-Benz's global sales, and once again making China Mercedes-Benz's largest regional market.

Notably, the first batch of Mercedes-Benz supercharging stations are already in use in China. As of now, Mercedes-Benz's public charging services have covered more than 360 cities in the country.

The Chinese market will continue to grow and play a leading role in industry innovation, said Ola Kaellenius, chairman of the board of management of Mercedes-Benz Group, who noted that China is not only the world's largest NEV market but also its innovation center, featuring leading companies and a mature new energy industry supply chain.

The growth and rise of Chinese domestic car manufacturers means that competition in the automotive market continues to intensify. China's commitment to achieving carbon peaking by 2030 and carbon neutrality by 2060 also means that more and more overseas-funded carmakers in the country are focusing their attention on the fields of intelligent mobility and new energy vehicles.

Located in the city of Changchun, capital of northeast China's Jilin Province, Audi FAW NEV Co., Ltd. is Audi's first production base in China dedicated to manufacturing electric vehicle models.

With an investment planned to exceed 30 billion yuan, the company is accelerating the construction of this NEV project, aiming for production by the end of 2024 and boasting an annual capacity of over 150,000 vehicles.

The influx of foreign investment into the Chinese market reflects not only the appeal of China's vast market and conducive policies, but also the collective aspiration for mutually beneficial cooperation.

China's expansion of institutional openness, increased market access, and enhanced services for foreign investors have combined to inject fresh vitality and momentum into global economic and trade cooperation.

Data released by the Ministry of Commerce showed that in the first two months of 2024, the number of newly established foreign-invested enterprises nationwide had reached 7,160, a year-on-year increase of 34.9 percent -- the highest level in nearly five years.

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