Auto Industry

German Carmakers Play Chinese Checkers

Beijing is pushing to get more environmentally-friendly cars on the road to mitigate extreme pollution. Source: DPA
Beijing is pushing to get more environmentally-friendly cars on the road to mitigate extreme pollution.
  • Why it matters

    Why it matters

    China is the world’s largest auto market and also the global market leader for electric cars.

  • Facts

    Facts

    • The three major German carmakers BMW, Daimler’s Mercedes-Benz and Volkswagen dominate China’s premium car market.
    • VW subsidiary Audi, which in 2015 had a drop in sales in China, has seen purchases increase 3.5 percent so far this year.
    • China is expected to replace the European Union as the main selling market for German car producers in 2016. BMW, Mercedes and VW are becoming increasingly dependent on a China market that includes government controls and many specific environmental regulations.
  • Audio

    Audio

  • Pdf

Audi’s research and development center in China couldn’t be better placed. It’s right in the middle of Beijing’s trendy 798 Art District, a former military complex now dotted with galleries, design companies and cafes.

“We are the pioneers at Audi when it comes to the wishes of Asian customers,” said Saad Metz, the head of the development center.  “And they are becoming more and more important.”

Mr. Metz, 49, manages a 250-strong team from 15 nations operating in  various locations in Asia. He says partnering with top Chinese tech firms like Baidu, Alibaba and Tencent is important. Developing technologies for Audi’s vehicles with the Chinese is a huge opportunity, he said.

Want to keep reading?

Subscribe now or log in to read our coverage of Europe’s leading economy.