Chinese Car Makers Planting New Roots in Old Detroit
What’s the Latest Development?
Chinese auto manufacturers are quickly making use of talent that might otherwise go to waste in the heart of America’s car sector: Detroit. While mainland Chinese companies already export inexpensive goods like seat belts, wipers and radios, their native engineers are young and lack the knowledge necessary to develop cars year in and year out. That knowledge, until lately, was thought secure in the hands of seasoned American engineers. When the American auto industry went bust, however, in the wake of the financial crisis, many engineers lost their jobs. Now, China is working to employ them again, hoping to eventually export its cars to the US.
What’s the Big Idea?
David E. Cole, a founder of the Center for Automotive Research in Ann Arbor, Michigan, said: “The Chinese are well behind the Japanese when they hit our shores 30 years ago. They lack the know-how, and they’re coming here to get it.” While the automotive business tends to thrive on media-driven events, Chinese companies are playing it low-key. “As businesses sprout up with little fanfare, Chinese companies seem to be trying to avoid the type of public opposition experienced by the Japanese automakers Toyota and Honda in the 1980s, when the sudden influx of foreign cars competing head-on with cars from General Motors, Ford and Chrysler was perceived as a threat to American jobs.”
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