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By Jeff Sanford

Detroit, Michigan -- July 29, 2015 -- The rise of car-based culture in China is the biggest story in the auto world over the last decade. Residents of the worlds most populous country are buying autos in ever-greater numbers. Auto sales in the country increased by 45 percent in 2009. China accounts for 75 percent of the world's total automotive sales growth from 2000 to 2014. The evolution of the auto sector in the world’s most populous country was on display at NACE, where Shanghai Auto Parts T&C had a booth displaying some of the auto parts the company hopes to import into North America.

The idea that Chinese car companies would be exporting car parts out of the country and into the West is not an idea many would have contemplated a couple of decades ago. But here were are. The future has arrived.

The Chinese government set up the first domestic Chinese auto company in the 1940s, but until recently, relatively few citizens owned a family vehicle. Most Chinese used bikes. The vast majority of vehicles were trucks and busses. But the Chinese car industry has grown rapidly. Today a made-in-China SUV, the Haval H2, is one of the country’s best-selling autos. There is a made-in-China car, the Chery, now being exported to several countries. Shanghai Auto Parts T&C (SAPTC) hopes to begin selling parts to American companies. The firm’s booth at the NACE showed off the companies skill in machining.

“We’re looking to enter the global stage. We want to get certified as a parts distributor and begin selling here,” says Charlie Cheng, Sales and Marketing Engineer for SAPTC.

The company opened its first North American service centre in 2013. According to marketing materials, SAPTC can match companies and entrepreneurs in China to opportunities and talent in North America. Buyers get access to a supplier base and can access SAPTC’s bilingual services, including negotiation support.

In a conversation with Collision Repair magazine, Cheng went on to describe Shanghai as the Detroit of China. The city has become the home of the Chinese auto industry. “They even have an F1 circuit now,” says Cheng.

A report on the SAPTC website suggests it is only time before Chinese companies represent a larger share of the global auto industry. According to the report, “As we all know, the dream of Chinese auto companies is to enter the US market … with China's current economic development, it is expected to overtake the United States this year, becoming the world's largest economy. Thus, Chinese auto companies entering the US market is only a matter of time.”

Confirmation this is indeed going to be the case: The week after NACE YFS Automotive Systems, a Chinese-owned manufacturer of automotive fuel tanks, announced it will build a brand new plant to construct fuel tanks in the city This is the first Chinese-owned manufacturing operation to locate in Detroit.


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