Groz-Beckert KG

Newsletter 4 | 2011

China keeps things on the move:
Overall market developments in the automotive industry

Over the past century the automotive industry developed into one of the most important branches of the global economy. Today it is as dynamic as ever - as proven by ever shorter model cycles and a steady stream of new technologies. As in many other sectors, shifts have taken place in regional importance. How can China profit from this in particular?

A rapid development

For almost all sectors, growth in the automotive industry has become one of the most important indicators of the global economic situation. Automotive production itself has doubled since the early 1980s. In 1982 there were 36.2 million vehicles (cars, trucks and buses) manufactured; by 2010 that figure had risen to 77.6 million vehicles.

It is interesting here to compare the ways in which different countries and markets have developed. In 2010, China was the undisputed number one among the car producing countries, with 18.3 million vehicles produced, ahead of Japan with its 9.6 million vehicles. They were followed by the USA with 7.7 million and Germany with 5.9 million vehicles.

As we have seen, worldwide production of vehicles has doubled since the early 1980s, but production in China has actually sextupled: from around 300,000 to today's 18.3 million cars, trucks and buses. In the USA, in contrast, production has stagnated and is actually declining slightly. The production figures in the car sector actually dropped by more than half during this period.

In contrast, car production in China in 2010 lay at 13.9 million vehicles. Over 11 million of those were registered in China, and the trend continues to increase. According to estimates by the consultancy firm of Roland Berger, around 18 million Chinese will be buying themselves new cars as soon as 2015. This shows how dominant Chinese automotive production has become, and its lead role is continuing to grow.

The importance of China

Like all the sectors of Chinese economy, local automotive supply companies are developing very rapidly. Over the next few years they could grow to become serious competitors, insofar as they have not done so already.


For European and North American carmakers, joint ventures with local suppliers of the automotive industry can be a sensible and targeted way of establishing themselves in the Chinese market. However, this also carries the risk of losing know-how. Would a move to a third country such as Vietnam offer a suitable alternative? Might the rising wages in China counteract the increasing procurement rates of the country's carmakers?

Especially for the automotive supply industry it is very difficult to develop suitable measures to deal with the expanding automotive market in China. It is however clear that the right strategy will become the key factor determining the success or failure not only of the European but also the world automotive supply industry as a whole.

At the moment, growth in the automotive industry still appears to be as rapid as ever. This also applies of course to the "textile suppliers", regardless of whether they knit, weave, sew or produce nonwovens or tufting products.

You can find more interesting information about international automotive products online at