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State of China Auto Manufacturing

Current General Manager, Procurement and Supply Chain, SAIC General Motors Corporation

IP Interview
Published on April 16, 2020

Why is this interview interesting?

  • The state of auto manufacturing in China in Q1
Executive Bio

Liang Zhou

Current General Manager, Procurement and Supply Chain, SAIC General Motors Corporation

Liang has been working on the ground in the Chinese automotive market for the last 20 years at various different Chinese Joint Ventures with Western automotive companies. He began his career as a Purchasing Manager at Changan Ford Automobile, the JV between Changan and Ford. In 2012, Liang joined General Motors China as a Global Procurement and Supply Chain Manager. He is well connected with OEM's, Tier 1 suppliers and also larger dealer groups in China which proves invaulable given how opaque the market is to Westerners.

Interview Transcript

Moving on to looking at the manufacturing and the factories. Are factories opening again, in mainland China, the automotive big OEMs?

All of them, they are already back to normal. They came back to normal at different times. For example, Volkswagen, they reopened in the middle of February. Most of the OEMs are already back to normal.

What is the situation inside the factories, in terms of the workers and the processes? Has it materially changed?

They are sometimes short of material because some components, some parts they come from the epidemic center, from Wuhan. As you know, Wuhan is still locked down by the government, so they are not able to produce these kind of components and parts. So for each OEM in China, they are already back to normal production, but the production volume is much lower, compared to last year. They are maybe at around 50% compared to the same months last year.

So huge decline in capacity utilization?

Yes. In February, the sales volume and the production volume is 80% reduction. For March and April, it would normally go back to normal, but it’s only going to be around the 50% level compared to last year.

Do you estimate that in April and May, you will return to capacity utilization and volume demand, on trend with 2019? Or do you think it will take much longer?

I think the epidemic in China, it will end around April, which means that for March and April, the sales volume will be half of last year. But after April, maybe May or June, then it will gradually become, maybe 70% or 80%, which means it will gradually come back to normal, I think.

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