In an increasingly globalised world, the Chinese are making headway towards an auto industry that can compete with the established brands of Asia, North America and Europe. Even five years ago, the majority of the Chinese brands, of which there are over twenty, were busy making half-baked copies of everything from Land Rovers to Smart. Now, things have changed. With a steady influx of designers lured away with incredible from established brands like BMW and Jaguar, as well as aggressive acquirement of or partnership with established brands, China's auto industry is at the cusp of a breakthrough to global recognition.
Haven't heard of the following brands yet? You will, soon enough.
Geely used to make some of the worst passenger cars sold internationally – Bangladesh got a bunch and they were so bad to drive, ride or own, it was mind bending. The brand was hugely popular in China though, and in 2010 they had enough capital to buy off Volvo. They're so confident they've launched a new sub-brand to push cars modeled after suave Europeans…to the Europeans. They call it Lynk&Co, and their main USP is in promoting connectivity and human-vehicle interactions.
Great Wall Motors
They've been making quality heavy duty pickups for a while now, and Great Wall has successfully pivoted towards luxury SUVs recently as well. A strong presence in Australia and Malaysia (Bangladesh as well) has yielded strong growth and now they're looking to take over the SUV market in other markets as well.
Started out by making basic as bones hatchbacks and small sedans loosely based off defunct GM models. Back then, Chery cars came with door pads thinner than your jeans and the colours made
their cars look like plastic decoration fruits. All that is about to change, because in 2012 Jaguar-Land Rover formed a 50-50 joint venture with Chery, which was founded in 1997 and is currently owned by the Chinese government, to produce JLR vehicles in China.
BYD Auto is one of the largest expanding manufacturers in China, having recently started operations in North America, with Leonardo Dicaprio as its brand ambassador, nonetheless. In China they have a 50-50 joint venture with Diamler AG, and currently produces widely exported commercial and heavy vehicles.
Dongfeng has more partnerships with global carmakers than any other, and hold most of the contracts in China to produce cars for brands like Citroen, Honda, Nissan-Renault, Peugeot and KIA. In 2014, they were the second largest Chinese automaker, with passenger cars being sold under the Fengshen name.
Others: Zotye, Lifan, Foday
Head online for a comprehensive list of promising Chinese manufacturers.