Managing the transition to electric mobility in Chinese automotive subsidiaries of MNCs

Type de publication:

Conference Paper


Heike Proff


Gerpisa colloquium, Paris (2011)


voiture électrique


The future of the automotive industry is seen as lying in the BRIC countries of Brazil, Russia, India and China, which according to current forecasts will account for 30% of world sales as early as 2014. These markets’ growth has long since outstripped that of the Triad markets (annual average growth of between 3 and 15% is expected through 2014 in the BRIC countries, while only 2% on average is expected in the Triad markets) and – with the exception of Russia – they have been far less affected than the Triad markets by the ongoing sales crisis.

However, the BRIC markets are highly diverse, and that applies to their automotive industries as well. In Brazil, for example, there are no national automotive players. In this most mature and stable of the BRIC auto markets, foreign manufacturers have left significant footprints, some going back to 1921 (Ford). However, the market has not connected to any great extent with global markets so far. Automobiles (mostly older vehicle versions from 3 to 5 years ago) are mainly produced locally for the domestic market, automotive parts are sourced locally for domestic production and niche products are developed locally for the Brazilian market (e.g. engines for biofuels). In contrast, almost all foreign manufacturers and suppliers have located in China during the last few years alongside a large number of Chinese automotive manufacturers, and are already focusing their sourcing in particular on global markets. This is the largest automotive market in the world: 12.9 million light vehicles – 57 percent of them passenger cars - were sold here in 2009, and the market is expected to grow to 15 million units per annum by 2014. The Chinese central government provides development funding both for production with conventional drives and, above all, for the transition to electric mobility, so that entirely new competitors are arising here (cf. Wang and Kimble, 2010, Zhao, 2006). This confronts the subsidiaries of foreign manufacturers and suppliers with major challenges if they want to defend or even expand their previously high marketshares despite increasing Chinese competition, and continue to tap Chinese market opportunities in the transition to electric mobility. 

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