'It's no surprise that Europe's car makers still have China in their sights'

After a visit to Renault's new factory in Wuhan, expansion in China means sustainable growth for car makers, says Graham Hope

You may have read some alarmist stories recently regarding the Chinese economy. And the slowdown in the growth of the auto industry there is always a concern for car company execs.

But a sense of perspective is needed, as I found out on a flying visit to Renault’s first Chinese factory, operated jointly with Dongfeng in the city of Wuhan.

Advertisement - Article continues below

'You can't get the staff these days - or so say industry bosses'

As Renault CEO Carlos Ghosn told me: “Because we’ve gone from 10 per cent growth to five per cent growth, people think the whole thing is collapsing. But it’s not true. Ten per cent growth would mean an extra two million cars a year sold. It’s impossible.” 

Continued Ghosn: “Five per cent a year is a million extra cars a year. That’s still a lot – and it’s sustainable.” To put that into context, 2.6 million new cars were registered across the UK in 2015.

Renault Kadjar - front action

Little wonder, then, that Renault has built a vast factory on a greenfield site in the car-manufacturing city known as China’s Detroit in a barely credible two years. It’ll produce Kadjars initially, to be followed by a new larger SUV that shares a platform with Nissan’s X-Trail. In China, as here, SUVs are big business – they took 30 per cent of the 21.2 million car sales in 2015, with the sector up by 53 per cent.

'Genesis needs the 'Made in Britain' tag to challenge luxury elite

It’s also no surprise that Renault – that most French of companies – is clearly prioritising the Chinese market when it comes to the new SUV. It’ll be unveiled in China, probably at April’s Beijing Motor Show, and still isn’t even confirmed for sale in Europe (although insiders say it’ll definitely come).

With 25 million car sales up for grabs by 2020, and the current ownership rate still only 100 per 1,000 inhabitants, you can understand its thinking.

So while the slowdown may be real, don’t expect any radical shift in focus from the manufacturers. China will remain an irresistible lure for some time to come, and understandably so.

What do you think? Leave us a comment below!




New Renault Morphoz concept previews future EV and can grow in size

The Renault Morphoz is an innovative concept previewing the French brand’s forthcoming CMF-EV platform, plus future battery swap technology
2 Mar 2020
Luca De Meo

Renault appoints Luca de Meo as new CEO

Luca de Meo takes over as Renault boss after leaving SEAT
28 Jan 2020
Renault Clio - front

Renault offers five-year warranty on all new cars

New five-year cover across Renault’s range starts from now, including every new Clio, Captur and ZOE
18 Dec 2019

'Think of what PSA/FCA can do, not what they can’t'

Editor-in-chief Steve Fowler thinks PSA and FCA could achieve incredible things together
6 Nov 2019

Most Popular

Hyundai Kona electric front
Hyundai Kona Electric

Hyundai Kona Electric to get increased range from July

UK-delivered Hyundai Kona Electrics will be outfitted with a handful of mechanical revisions, boosting the SUV’s maximum range to 300 miles
18 Mar 2020
Hyundai i20

New 2021 Hyundai i20 N to rival Ford Fiesta ST with 200bhp

New Hyundai i20 N to join i30 N in brand’s hot hatch line-up and our exclusive images preview how it could look
2 Apr 2020

New SEAT Leon 2020 review

The all-new SEAT Leon hatchback impresses with its blend of sporty handling and cutting-edge technology
3 Apr 2020