Chinese manufacturer aiming to increase International presence

Chinese state-owned Beijing Automotive Group recently expressed their interest in taking over a European automaker. At their recent rechristening announcement, the Chinese automaker was renamed as Beijing Automotive International Development Co. Ltd., or simply BAIC International (Beiqi International in China).

“With the official launch of BAIC International, this ushers in a new stage of development of the the group in the international business arena,” said Xu Heyi, Chairman of BAIC.

BAIC detailed their new international strategy during the announcement, the new international company will be in charge of vehicle and parts export as well as international acquisition and investment. It is looking to expand its presence in emerging markets like Brazil, Mexico, South Africa, and Russia. It will also look into new markets like North Africa, as well as Central and South America to achieve an overseas sales target of 400,000 cars by 2020.

Partner investment banks have found three candidate ‘medium-sized’ automakers in Europe for a possible takeover by BAIC.

"We want to acquire such mid-sized brands in Europe while the economy is sluggish so we can use their facilities as a production base to expand there," Dong Haiyang, President of BAIC International.

"We will do everything in our power to explore overseas markets," added Xu Heyi.

The automaker also plans to release ‘world class’ vehicles by 2025. Last year, it hired former Pininfarina designer Leonardo Fioravanti (of Ferrari Daytona and Ferrari Dino fame), as Chief Design Officer. Last month, it hired Australian Peter Arcadipane as design director.

Beijing Auto recently released the Senova sedan based on a first-generation Saab 9-5 as part of the its asset acquisition of the ill-fated Swedish carmaker in 2009. BAIC went as far as signing Hollywood actor Nicolas Cage to promote the vehicle and star in a short film called ‘Town of Car Legends’, directed by Olivier Megaton.

BAIC Group currently assembles Hyundai and Mercedes-Benz vehicles in China through joint ventures with the companies. BAIC also owns Foton, a commercial vehicle brand which has a significant presence in the Philippine market. It now joins Chinese companies Chery Automobile, SAIC Motor Corp and Great Wall Motor who have started their international operations to find new markets.