Chinese Auto Innovation Rolling Westward

The impact of innovation in China is often not obvious to the West, even when many gadgets like the iPhone draw upon innovations from China and Taiwan that make many Western products possible. Not many Chinese brands have spread outside the borders of China, leading some observers to question the significance of Chinese innovation in full-fledged products and not just components or manufacturing methods. China is just beginning to learn how to develop brands that will succeed in the West. The apparent dearth of brand-based innovation from China should change in the coming decade. Some of the front-runners might be found in the automotive industry.

The Chinese automobile brand, Chery, is already rolling westward. A friend of mine spotted it on-sale in Kiev, Russia, and sent me these photos (photos courtesy of Martin Daffner). Chery, now one of China’s leading exporters, began exports in 2001 to Syria and now sells its cars in the European nations of Russia, Ukraine, Belarus, Serbia, Macedonia, Turkey and Italy (per Wikipedia) and as of 2012 will be marketing also in Australia, Singapore, and South Africa. Chery’s strategy is to expand in developing countries first and then enter more developed countries.

As Chinese brands move to the West, we will increasingly see Chinese companies getting their IP stolen unless they take proactive steps early to protect it. It’s already happening in the realm of trademarks, as Li Yongbo reports in the China Daily article, “More Chinese brands victims of IPR violations.”

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