The first thing that comes to our minds when we hear the word Chinese is that the product won’t last long. Well, after the Coronavirus or the COVID 19 widespread, it is clear that some do last, for pretty long. But the Chinese are also known for their automotive presence across the globe which seems to have gained pace in India too. The Chinese cars have started rolling in India from last year and the popularity seems to have no bounds. Even at the Auto Expo 2020, we saw a majority of the Chinese companies showcasing their plans to enter one of the largest automotive markets in the world. Let’s have a look at the first Chinese company that entered the Indian market space.
2019 – MG Motors (SAIC)
With the launch of Hector in June 2019, MG announced its arrival at our shores. The SUV achieved great popularity amongst the Indian audience and people really liked the new SUV. MG Motors is a Chinese owned British brand that has been assessing the Indian market for a few years now. With a network of over 65 showrooms across 50 cities in India, MG plans to strengthen their base before other Chinese companies join the league.
This year in January, MG also launched its first fully electric car and second in its lineup, the MG ZS EV. Locking horns with the Hyundai Kona and Tata Nexon EV, MG ZS EV is chosen amongst its rivals. It has got a good sales record considering that the EV segment is still in its initial stage in India.
MG also showcased a few vehicles such as Gloster and Hector Plus, which the company plans to launch in India in the coming time. Personally, I feel that MG Hector is a bit overly done in terms of design and the relatively smaller wheels do not add up to the equation. On the other hand, ZS EV is a fully loaded EV and is really good in terms of performance, design and features.
So this was the first and till now the only Chinese four-wheeler company in India with cars such as ZS EV and Hector taking a good chunk of share in the market. Now let’s have a look at some upcoming Chinese companies that tend to change the notion of Chinese products in our minds (discussed earlier).
Great Wall Motors
— GWMIndia (@GwmIndia) January 1, 2020
On January 1, 2020, Great Wall Motors India announced that they are soon going to come to the Indian market. GWM is a well-known Chinese brand especially known for its Haval range of SUVs across the globe. They also showcased the SUV range at the automotive show in February 2020. GWM plans to enter the market in 2021.
Ahead of its entry to the Indian market, Great Wall Motors has also acquired Talegaon plant of General Motors (GM) which stopped sales in the country in 2017 and will completely cease operations in India. The American automaker has announced an agreement with GWM regarding the sale of the plant, subject to the requisite government and the regulatory approvals.
Cars to expect from the company are Haval H6 and H9 SUVs. H6 can be expected to launch as a compact SUV to ensure that the tax benefits for the sub-4-metre are used to keep the price in check.
GWM is also planning to introduce ORA branded electric cars (R1, R2, iQ) in India including the ORA R1. The ORA R1 is marketed as the cheapest 5-seater electric car in the world. The R1 retails at ¥59,800 or ₹6.14 lakh. Powered by a 33 kWh battery and a top speed of 100 km/h, the ORA R1 has a riding range of around 300 km on a single charge.
To give a verdict on the company, we’ll have to wait for the launch of their cars. Till then we can have a look at the other companies too.
Haima Automobiles was founded in 1988; based out of Hainan province in China. Haima during its early days sold rebadged Mazda cars. The word Haiman is a combination of Hainan province and the Japanese carmaker Mazda. The car company was eventually taken over by the First Automobile Works a.k.a the FAW Group.
For its India operations, Haima Automobiles has partnered with the Bird Electric; a part of the Bird Group. in fact another subsidiary of the Bird Group; Bird Automotive is the official dealer for BMW and Mini car in India.
Back in China, Haima Automobiles have a decent portfolio of all-electric cars from the Aishang 360 (hatchback), E3 (sedan), E5 (SUV) and E7 (MPV).
Haima also plans to enter the Indian market soon.
So we have an array of Chinese companies which are going to try their luck and their cars in India. Let’s see if they can have any are in the market or will have to go empty-handed. Indian automotive market has shown that there is a dire need of innovation and companies like Kia have already made their mark.