Bill Russo to Speak on China’s Auto Industry at Citigroup China Auto Conference

Shanghai, China, November 19, 2015

Gao Feng’s Managing Director and Auto Practice leader Bill Russo will deliver a keynote speech titled “China’s Automotive Industry in Transition:  Is the Golden Age Over?” at 10:00 AM.

Topic: China’s Automotive Industry in Transition:  Is the Golden Age Over?

Following a decade of rapid growth that culminated in a stimulus-driven surge in demand in 2009-2010, the China auto market sharply decelerated, with growth slipping to 2.5% in 2011 and 4.3% in 2012.  This brief slowdown was followed by 14% growth in 2013 and 7% growth in 2014, with overall sales exceeding 23 million units.  While the market growth has been spectacular, there are rising concerns on the sustainability of this performance as the market may be approaching a saturation point in the traditionally strong coastal regions.  Intense competition among automakers as they pursue emerging growth opportunities in specific regions and segments is anticipated.  Mr. Russo will address opportunities and challenges faced by different competitors as they deal with this a transitional period in the world’s largest automotive market.

  • Opportunities and challenges in luxury and imported vehicles market.
  • Opportunities and challenges in emerging provinces and cities, as well as in second and third tier cities
  • Sales and marketing strategies to exploit these opportunities
  • Strategies to diversify profit streams and maximize profit opportunities
  • Structural changes that may occur as the market transitions to a slower growth pattern
 Contact us for more information on this or other topics related to China and our auto practice.
20151119 China Auto Market Briefing vF English  Microsoft PowerPoint, Today at 12.04.22 PM
20150722 China Auto Market Briefing vF Microsoft PowerPoint, Today at 6.05.33 PM

Bill Russo to Speak on Green Mobility at Automotive Steel Conference

Pattaya, Thailand, November 6, 2014

In the context of a sustainable world and increasing environmental pressure from the government, green manufacturing has become a prerequisite for all industrial sectors to achieve sustainable development. Steel and automotive sectors are playing a critical role to support the sustainability of the entire society. Regulations on environmental protection are getting increasingly stringent to the two sectors. Facilitating collaboration between the two sectors is becoming an important item in the agenda of relevant government agencies, market players and research organizations.

Gao Feng’s Managing Director and Auto Practice leader Bill Russo will deliver a keynote speech titled “Towards a Green Automotive Industry:  A Collaboration Model to Accelerate China’s Green Mobility Efforts” at 10:05am on Thursday, November 6th.

Driving Steel_Conference Agenda

HOW CONNECTED MOBILITY TECHNOLOGY IS DRIVING THE FUTURE OF THE AUTOMOTIVE INDUSTRY – PART 2

This is the second article in this 2-part series

Four key trends of the connected car paradigm

The connected car is changing the way we perceive our driving experience. We have identified four key areas of connected car technology that are shaping the industry future, driving new business models and creating a new technology paradigm.

  1. Navigation and parking

While navigation technology has become a standard feature in premium vehicles, the interactivity with other drivers and users is becoming more common and it is expected to be a standard feature in new vehicle models. Start-ups such as Waze were a key driver for the mass adoption of social platforms by drivers and it could be suggested that they were the pioneers of the connected car revolution for the wider industry. Waze was recently sold to Google for over $1B and is being integrated into Google maps providing intelligent crowdsourced information to millions around the world. Connectivity is also changing the world of parking, with a number of start-ups using smart algorithms to predict parking behaviour in real time as well as providing availability maps for drivers and municipalities. One of the key challenges in both navigation and parking analytics is the monetization of these services and we can expect to see some business model innovation in this area.

  1. Vehicle analytics

In-vehicle analytics is also creating significant opportunities for technology players. Initially this technology was mostly being used for large fleets in commercial vehicles making it possible to manage driver performance and vehicle diagnostics in real time and helping improve fleet safety and reduce maintenance costs significantly.  The positioning of such an offering for the mass consumer market has not been established, but we can expect to see this technology impact the way we maintain and insure our cars as well as features for monitoring our own family driving patterns and behaviors.

  1. Wearables

Another important factor in the connected car paradigm is the use of wearable devices and the information extracted from them. These items can be expected to assist in creating additional connectivity and in the short term will allow for connectivity for drivers in non-connected cars. For example the use of smart glasses can provide access to augmented reality navigation prior to the installation of a HUD or virtualization projector. Using data from wearable and mobile devices will provide a wealth of personalized data and will allow the vehicle to become contextually aware and therefore respond to specific driver needs better.

  1. Driver safety and autonomous driving

In the world of sensors and driver safety we have seen companies using various technologies including laser, cameras, night vision and radars to create smart driver assistance and collision avoidance systems. While initially these systems have been used for parking assistance and collision warnings for premium models, we can expect mass adoption of these systems while gradually moving toward full autonomous driving. This area is likely to be heavily guided by regulation and government policy and we can expect the adoption of full autonomous driving to be gradual and limited to specific areas.

These four key trends are an indication of the wealth of opportunities in the connected mobility space, however, while connectivity provides multiple benefits, it is also a vulnerability to core vehicle systems through its multiple wireless entry points (RDS, GPS, cellular, IR, WiFi, etc.). As vehicles become ‘smarter’, all systems become interconnected via the vehicle CANbus providing direct access to critical vehicle systems. Most recently, there has been a significant amount of work conducted around understanding the future threats in this area from simple auto-theft to more advanced cyber terrorism. A number of automotive specific cyber firms have been setup in order to build up expertise for tackling such challenges and ultimately to provide us with vehicle firewalls and other cyber security mechanism.

Connectivity driving new players into the Auto industry

While vehicle connectivity has been relatively slow to enter the global auto sector, the Chinese auto industry has shown strong commitment and vision in this area. In fact, China has already made fundamental moves to ensure that it will be a global leader in the auto mobility paradigm.

The unique context of China’s urban transportation challenge, the high rate of adoption of mobile device connectivity, combined with the rapid and aggressive introduction of alternative mobility and ownership concepts will compress the time needed to commercialize smart, connected car technology and related services.

However, while China holds a tremendous ability to scale the manufacturing of its auto industry, its corporate structures lack the flexibility required for the development of new ‘out of the box’ technology and therefore it requires an external source of innovation to support this area of growth.

Prof Steven Spiegel of UCLA presented a model of ‘Importing Innovation’ from small innovative nations to large industrial superpowers. He presents the notion of economic complementarity between the US and small countries such as Israel, Singapore or Finland as drivers of ideas and innovation.

By way of example, Israel, dubbed the start-up nation, is known for its disproportional number of successful start-ups, doctors, scientists, engineers, registered patents and NASDAQ listed companies and could offer a unique development platform for major industrial countries such as the US or China. Israel’s experience in developing world class military technology combined with its leadership in mobile technology makes it a unique potential partner for the Chinese Auto industry in its quest for seamlessly integrating connectivity into cars.

Such collaborations could act as a powerful springboard for the Chinese industry in its path to establish global leadership in the auto industry.

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End of Part 2 (of 2)

Click here to read Part 1

For further discussion, please contact the authors:
Bill Russo
Managing Director,
Gao Feng Advisory Company
bill.russo@gaofengadv.com

Chee-Kiang Lim
Principal,
Gao Feng Advisory Company
ck.lim@gaofengadv.com

Guy Pross
Managing Partner,
31ºNorth Innovation Exchange
guy.pross@31degreesnorth.com 

Uri Kushnir
Managing Partner,
31ºNorth Innovation Exchange
uri.kushnir@31degreesnorth.com 

Hunting for deals on wheels in China’s developing used car market

Nikkei Asian Review. September 11, 2014

SHANGHAI — Zhu Xiaohong closely examines a 4-year-old Volkswagen Touran, using the flashlight on his mobile phone. The gray VW sits in what looks like a multistory parking lot but is in fact the Shanghai Used Car Trade Market, the largest of a cluster of secondhand dealers on the city’s Zhongshan North Road.

Zhu’s conclusion: “I want to buy this car.”

Zhu, who has bought used cars twice before, said he cannot afford to buy new. But while used cars are significantly cheaper than new ones in China, prices are higher than in developed overseas markets, and there is often greater uncertainty about quality.

Yasuhiro Konta, a senior manager responsible for secondhand sales at Dongfeng Nissan Passenger Vehicle, explained that it is rare to see a standard going rate for a used car in China. “Each price is decided by negotiation,” he said.

This informal system reduces the pressure on sellers to keep prices down, according to Cameron Macqueen, general manager of Southern Cross Warranty, the Chinese arm of Australian financial company Presidian.

“Pricing in China is a lot higher than in the U.S. or Australia — maybe up to 30% or more for some makes and models,” Macqueen said. He estimated average secondhand sale prices at 60,000 yuan ($9,770) nationally, but added that the figure rises to 200,000 yuan in big cities such as Shanghai, where top-end luxury cars are popular.

Trust issues

China’s used car market has expanded alongside a dramatic rise in demand for new cars. Sales of new passenger vehicles hit 17.92 million in 2013, according to Deloitte’s 2014 China Auto Finance Report, confirming China’s status as the world’s largest car market.

Bill Russo, managing director of consultancy Gao Feng Advisory, said the supply of used cars is increasing as owners sell into the market rather than handing on vehicles to other family members. Demand, Russo said, is picking up as younger drivers become more comfortable buying preowned.

On the other hand, Russo pointed out that the ratio of secondhand sales to new car sales is much lower in China than overseas, suggesting that there is a lot of room for growth. In the U.S., three used cars are sold for every new car purchased, whereas in China only one used vehicle is sold for every four new ones.

While those numbers could change, the used car market faces considerable challenges. For a start, growth in new car sales appears to be slowing, although it is still high by Western standards. Deloitte, which tracks the industry closely, says it expects annual growth in China’s new passenger car sales to fall from 15% in 2013 to 7% over the next few years, with the expansion of the used car market slowing from around 20% a year to 15%.

Used car sales are also hampered by a lack of transparent vehicle records, which often makes buying a matter of chance. Sometimes, sellers cross the line into outright fraud.

“I would say the majority of cars have their odometer wound back, and therefore credibility issues are rife,” Macqueen said. “Chinese are not yet up to speed with how to look after their cars, so it is normal for a customer not to trust the history, the quality, of the car they’re looking at, or the dealer.”

Turning pro

The hit-and-miss nature of the used car market reflects the dominance of independent dealers and brokers.

Wang Meimei’s corner of the Shanghai Used Car Trade Market is taken up by a BMW, a Mercedes-Benz and a Volkswagen Passat. “Sometimes I sell a car a day, sometimes a car a week. It varies,” said Wang, who is preparing to retire after 10 years on Zhongshan North Road.

The market is changing, however. Alibaba Group, China’s largest e-commerce company, recently announced plans to launch a platform for selling used cars online. Conventional dealers are also beginning to offer warranties on preowned vehicles, prodded by companies such as Southern Cross.

New car dealers, known in China as 4S shops, are increasingly moving into the secondhand business, bringing more professional marketing and sales techniques.

Martin Kuehl, a spokesman for Audi China, said the company expects the preowned market to continue to grow and has set up 290 licensed used car dealerships — including 60 that sell only Audis. Dongfeng Nissan began selling used cars at some of its 4S shops five years ago; last year it sold around 20,000 through more than 60 dealers.

New government regulations that take effect in October are likely to accelerate the trend toward greater professionalism. Authorized dealerships will be free to sell a range of brands, rather than being tied to a single marque. Industry experts say this will give a further boost to the better-run 4S shops, whose more transparent pricing and marketing practices are likely to put pressure on independents to raise their standards.

 

Potential buyers check out vehicles at the Shanghai Used Car Trade Market. Preowned cars tend to be pricier in China than in other major countries. © Photo by Mark Andrews

“I see a trend toward businesses who want to build a brand name — meaning the quality dealers are getting more and more business,” Macqueen said.

Some problems will remain, though. Many cities, including Beijing and Shanghai, have implemented measures to try to limit car numbers, usually by restricting the supply of license plates. Many of the cars on sale at Zhongshan North Road carry suburban “Hu C” plates, which do not allow the vehicles to be driven into the city center.

Emission standards also vary between cities and provinces, hampering the creation of a national market, or even of large regional markets.

When a new Ford Fiesta was introduced to China in 2009, models sold in Beijing and Shanghai were compliant with the fourth-generation national emission standard, equivalent to the European Union’s Euro IV standard. Models destined for other parts of the country met only the older China III standard.

Today, registering a China III car is difficult nationwide. As a result, those Fiestas are hard to sell.

Click here to read the article at Nikkei Asian Review