Xu Liuping, chairman of FAW, shares his understanding of Audi's success in China over the past 30 years.[Photo provided to China Daily]
Premium carmaker continues to be a trailblazer with innovations across 'whole value chain'
In Chinese culture, the age 30 has a special meaning. It's the point at which one is believed to have established himself or herself, and after which one is expected to grow in wisdom and vision; in the words of Confucius in The Analects: "At age 30 I stood firm".
That happens to be true of German carmaker Audi, which celebrated the 30th anniversary last week of its cooperation with China FAW Corporation Ltd, which dates back to the decision in 1988 to assemble the Audi 100 sedan in Changchun, Jilin province.
Audi became a shareholder of the joint venture FAW-Volkswagen in 1996 and has since produced models in the country through the partnership, one of the most successful carmakers in China.
As the first premium marquee to localize production, Audi has reigned in the country's premium segment for 30 years in a row: it has delivered 5 million imported and primarily made-in-China vehicles in the country, which is now Audi's largest car market worldwide.
"Beginning with the joint production of the Audi 100 in 1988, FAW and Audi laid the foundation for what was to become one of the strongest and most important partnerships our group has today," said Herbert Diess, CEO of the Volkswagen Group, Audi's parent company, at a celebratory event last week in Changchun.
"All this would not have been possible without the dedication of our outstanding partner FAW. And it would not have been possible without the efforts of the whole Audi team of our joint venture FAW-Volkswagen."
Its success does not stop there. Even more important, the partnership is believed to have blazed a trail and helped to boost the country's then still-primitive automotive industry.
FAW Chairman Xu Liuping said the two partners have made many "firsts" in China, including opening up the sub-segments of China's premium vehicle market, introducing the 4S dealership into the country, and localizing research and development represented by the long-wheelbase A6 sedan.
The moves, especially offering the long-wheelbase vehicles, have proved especially popular and earned Audi a reputation as the foreign brand that best understands the country.
Following its lead, almost all premium carmakers and even volume brands are now extending wheelbases of their models sold in China.
"It was thanks to the cooperation between FAW and Audi that China had started its journey into the premium vehicle segment, and of course, heralded the era of premium vehicle consumption in the country," Xu said.
Liu Yigong, board member and president of FAW-Volkswagen Automotive Co Ltd, explained his understanding of Audi's "establishment" as its turns 30 in China.