'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.

'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!

Recommended

‘Renault is setting the pace of change for others to follow’
Opinion - Renault Scenic Vision
Renault

‘Renault is setting the pace of change for others to follow’

Editor-in-chief Steve Fowler thinks Renault is well on the way to becoming an EV-only company
26 May 2022
Best French modern classic cars 2022
Best French modern classic cars - header image
Modern classics

Best French modern classic cars 2022

French car manufacturing has had its highs and lows, but the cars listed here are all bona fide modern classics
24 May 2022
Reborn Renault Scenic SUV previewed by new Scenic Vision concept
Renault Scenic Vision concept - front
Renault

Reborn Renault Scenic SUV previewed by new Scenic Vision concept

This is our first look at the new all-electric Renault Scenic SUV with electric/hydrogen power and real-life interior rainbows
19 May 2022
New Renault Austral SUV replaces Kadjar in brand’s 2022 line-up
Renault Austral - front action
Renault

New Renault Austral SUV replaces Kadjar in brand’s 2022 line-up

A complete revolution for Renault’s C-segment SUV offering sees the new Austral take things more upmarket
8 Mar 2022

Most Popular

EU demands speed limiters on all new cars from next week: know the rules and how they work
speed limiters
News

EU demands speed limiters on all new cars from next week: know the rules and how they work

Car industry body calls for UK government to adopt the new measures, but we’ll probably get them anyway…
29 Jun 2022
New MG 4 electric hatch arrives with 280 miles of range
New MG 4 2023
News

New MG 4 electric hatch arrives with 280 miles of range

The all-electric MG 4 hatchback rivals the Volkswagen ID.3 and introduces MG’s new MSP electric platform
28 Jun 2022
New 2022 Hyundai Ioniq 6 enters as sleek all-electric saloon
Hyundai Ioniq 6 - front
News

New 2022 Hyundai Ioniq 6 enters as sleek all-electric saloon

The Hyundai Ioniq 6 is the follow-up to the game-changing Ioniq 5 and packages the same EV technology into a streamlined shape
28 Jun 2022