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World Automakers Seek Cooperation with Chinese Partners
The immense potential of China's growing heavy-duty truck market has attracted international automakers to seek cooperation with their Chinese counterparts.

A joint venture company between the Shandong-based China National Heavy Duty Truck Corporation and the Swedish Volvo will be inaugurated in October this year to produce heavy-duty trucks.

The Changchun-based First Automobile Works (FAW) Group, China's largest automaker, will hopefully reach an accord with DaimlerChrysler to launch joint products.

In another development, negotiations are going on between Dongfang Automobile and the France-based Renault on the joint production of heavy-duty trucks.

Such cooperation will be a "win-win" strategy, said experts attending the ongoing Second Changchun International Auto Show in Changchun, capital of Northeast China's Jilin Province, which is known as the cradle of China's national automobile industry.

"Once domestic heavy-duty truck manufacturers stand on the shoulders of the international giants, they will be able to tackle some major technical difficulties within the shortest time," said an expert.

Analysts say that China's light and medium-duty trucks enjoy considerable price advantages, but its heavy-duty trucks still lag behind some international brands in critical technical parameters, including speed and polluting exhaust emission.

"We have to upgrade our products through international cooperation," said Zhu Yanfeng, general manager of FAW.

On the other hand, these international giants will have access to the Chinese market through the sales network of the Chinese automakers, he added.

China's sustained economic development, the development of its vast west region and the increasing input in infrastructure construction have stimulated the domestic demand for top quality heavy-duty trucks, said Zhu.

"We sold six heavy-duty trucks on the very first day of this auto show," said a sales agent of Isuzu, "Each at over 600,000 yuan (US$72,280)."

Statistics show that China's heavy-duty truck production and sales both hit 30,000 in the first quarter of this year. It is estimated that by 2005, China will have 1.6 million kilometers of road, 650,000 kilometers of which will be in the Western areas. China's annual demand for heavy-duty trucks will therefore be between 90,000 to 110,000.

Meanwhile, the Chinese government has taken measures to regulate its heavy-duty truck industry. The Ministry of Communication mapped out a policy last year to curb overlapping construction.

"This has offered tremendous prospects for China's heavy-duty truck industry, and great opportunities for Sino-foreign cooperation in this regard," said Zhu.

(Xinhua 08/29/2001)

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