China’s BAIC ready to make SA inroads
After a slow start and no test-drives policy, the company is set to grow its African footprint, writes Denis Droppa
After a number of imported Chinese car brands have come and gone rather swiftly (among them Geely, Chery, Hafei and Chana), and have often demonstrated dodgy build quality and safety standards, South African consumers are understandably wary of vehicles from that country. It makes launching a new Chinese brand in this country challenging, but BAIC (pronounced "bike") has committed to an R11bn investment in building a semi knock-down (SKD) vehicle assembly facility in Port Elizabeth’s Coega district. "We have heard a lot of negative feedback about Chinese brands, concerning product quality and also the fact that a number of them have left the country," admits Kane Du, marketing manager of BAIC SA Investment, from the company’s head office in Linbro Park near Johannesburg. But he is hoping Beijing Automotive International Corporation’s major investment implies a firm that will be around for a while. "We have had good public reaction to our vehicles at motor shows, and our investment i...