Economic Watch: Foreign capital spurs new vitality in China's auto industry cradle
CHANGCHUN, April 22 (Xinhua) -- Robot couriers shuttle inside a German production workshop in northeast China's Jilin Province, where only a few workers operate a bustling production line churning out e-mobility products.
Jiang Huaisheng, general manager of Vitesco Automotive Changchun Co., Ltd. based in Jilin's capital of Changchun, said as one of the important production bases of German powertrain company Vitesco Technologies, the workshop is operating at full capacity to catch up with rising orders.
Since 2020, the German parent company has invested more than 500 million yuan (72.5 million U.S. dollars) in the workshop in Jilin, where its R&D team has increased to 330 people, said Jiang.
He said the company is striving to scale up the workshop and build new production lines for NEV products.
Home to China's state-owned FAW Group founded in 1953, the city of Changchun is regarded as the cradle of China's auto industry and has continued to eye the auto industry as its economic pillar.
Boosted by continuous growth in the auto industry, investment in Jilin Province has maintained a growth rate of more than 20 percent for four consecutive years. In 2022, Jilin's total foreign trade hit a record high of nearly 156 billion yuan. In the first two months of this year, Jilin's exports sustained a strong growth momentum of 18.3 percent year on year.
Foreign auto giants such as German luxury carmaker Audi AG have kept plowing money into this auto industrial center.
Cooperating with China's leading automaker FAW Group Co., Ltd., the Audi FAW NEV project, with an investment of over 30 billion yuan, broke ground on June 28, 2022 in Changchun. This is Audi's first production base for purely electric vehicles in China and is expected to start operation at the end of 2024, with a planned annual production capacity of 150,000 vehicles.
In 2023, Jilin is expected to see a total of 167 upgrading projects in the automobile industry. Once all in production, the projects will have an estimated annual output value exceeding 120 billion yuan.
The provincial government has kept optimizing the business environment to give foreign investors easier access to the local market.
"We strive to make it as easy for foreign-invested enterprises to do business in Jilin as it is to do online shopping," said Wang Shuying, deputy director of the provincial market supervision department, adding that the province is taking the lead in China in realizing whole-process online operation in approving foreign-invested projects.