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Businesses prepare for Chinese invasion

Amid the glitz, glamour and bright lights of the Paris Motor Show, it was easy for visitors to overlook the modest display put on by China Automotive France.

But many retailers could soon be giving second glances at a business that is setting itself up to be one of the main European distribution networks for a wave of low-cost Chinese cars.

As has been revealed by AM (October 17), the fledgling operation plans to be channelling models from a handful of Asian manufacturers into mainland European markets from 2010.

In just five years’ time, its area of activity will have embraced the UK and the number of brands in its portfolio will have risen to 14.

“China is the future in automotive retailing and if we don’t do this, someone else will,” says Andre Abchee, who set up CAF two years ago from rented showrooms near Bordeaux.

Starting with a domestic network next year and spreading into Belgium and Holland 12 months later, he wants to sell 3,000 units by the end of the first decade.

Prior to that, CAF aims for dealers in its British network to be coming on stream and laying the foundations for the business boom it expects from a sharp increase of interest in budget-priced mobility.

“We will expand slowly and steadily, but it is important to recognise the potential of bottom-rung vehicles and the rapid growth of appeal of low-cost luxury products in European markets.

"We are regarding ourselves as the supermarket of the Chinese car,” says Abchee.

CAF intends to field a portfolio of vehicles in all market segments but insists that the low-cost models it rolls into the showrooms will also boast high quality.

  • This is an excerpt from the November 14 issue of AM. To subscribe to AM magazine click here.

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