China to Usher in Its First Sports Car

Geely Group, a business in Zhejiang Province and the first privately-owned automobile manufacturer in China, has announced production of China’s first sports car, expected to roll off the assembly line in eight months pending approval of the appropriate government authorities.

Geely’s light, fast, fashionable car with the profile of a dashing track shoe is expected to sell for 150,000 yuan (about US$18,223).

Many car models in China, primarily sedans, have been adapted from cars imported from other countries. The bottleneck in China’s developing its own style in automobiles has not been in technology or ability but rather in the area of design, according to Liu Jinliang, vice president of Geely Group who touted his company’s new car as a breakthrough for the industry.

According to Liu Jinliang, in focusing on automobile design, Geely Group has attracted designers from other large manufactures who brought with them expertise to build new cars without infringing on patents, a path followed world-wide in the development of new products.

China is reported to have some 187 auto manufacturers throughout the country with some 10,000 auto parts manufacturers. The Chinese market holds great potential for the auto industry. But China’s companies will only serve as assembly plants for overseas automobile companies, if it does not have its own technology and products - with a great loss to the possible market in China.

Geely currently produces two family cars - Geely-Merri, a four-cylinder car and Geely-Haoqing, a three-cylinder – which have done well on the market, according to Li Shifu, president of Geely Group who said at one dealership alone in June in Beijing Geely sold more than 300 cars.

(CIIC translation from People’s Daily 07/24/2001)

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