As auto executives pay homage by attending Europe's top-class automotive event – this year's Frankfurt motor show, just starting – their minds will be on other matters.
For this will be a Frankfurt like no other; as minds constantly drift away…elsewhere.
In North America for example, earlier this year Ford Motor Company announced that its joint venture business, Changan Ford Automobile Co., would acquire for $1.08 billion the plant from Harbin Hafei Automobile Industry Group Co., a wholly owned subsidiary of China Changan Automobile Group, the parent of Ford’s partner, Chongqing Changan Automobile. The deal would increase its passenger-car capacity in China by 200,000 vehicles annually, but the companies said they had “no specific product plan” to announce at that time.
As to General Motors, China has been the automaker’s largest market since 2010, accounting for about one-third of its global sales. And senior executives expect China to remain the company’s largest market “well into the future”. Not so long ago, executives declared that GM has “an aggressive strategy for capitalizing on the abundant opportunities now and beyond 2020”. Much is at stake.
So evidence of a slowdown in China may be unnerving business leaders everywhere, and no more than in the front offices of medium--sized passenger cars and SUVs. BMW and Daimler, to name but two in particular, have made big investments In China. So too has JaguarLandRover.