China's Automotive

Success Story

[ Published in HOERBIGER@MOTION 02/2012 ]

Shanghai Automotive Industry (Group) Corporation (SAIC): the story of one of China's most important automobile manufacturer is driven by famous car models. It began with the Shanghai 760 built in the late fifties, a sedan weighing more than a ton. Today, in 2012, SAIC is really gaining traction with state-of-the-art transmission technology. And HOERBIGER is supporting the company.

The true success story of the automotive industry in China began in the eighties – with Shanghai Automotive Industry Corporation as the trailblazer. The joint venture Shanghai VW has been producing the Shanghai Santana since 1983. The success of the Santana paved the way for SAIC developing an entirely new supplier industry for automotive components in the late 1980s and in the 1990s. While in 1987 the only locally manufactured components of the Shanghai Santana were the tires and car radio, the share of locally produced parts was expanded to more than 90 percent in a matter of ten years. In 1997, a new joint venture was created with General Motors. In 1996, Shanghai GM began to produce Buicks and Chevys and helped SAIC double its annual production between 2000 and 2006. With the onset of the new millennium, SAIC prepared its presence on the international market. In 2002, SAIC acquired a majority stake in the Korean automobile manufacturer SsangYong Motor, gaining access to the Koreans' international dealer network. SAIC had grown with the Chinese automobile market until 2002. Driving factors for this growth were the joint ventures. For almost ten years, the Chinese automotive industry has attempted to become established on the worldwide market with new products it developed on its own. And it has done so successfully: in 2005, SAIC acquired the licenses to the Rover 25 and Rover 75 models from the insolvency assets of MG Rover Group. The production equipment and machines were acquired in 2006 by its then competitor, Chinese automaker Nanjing Automobile Corporation (NAC), which holds the naming rights to MG and founded the subsidiary NAC MG. Upon intervention by the Chinese government, the two entities merged to jointly produce the almost identical models of SAIC and NAC MG. SAIC continued to develop the British models and is selling them with a newly designed company logo under the Roewe marque. The name had to be changed because the naming rights to Rover as well as the logo are owned by Ford.

SAIC is presently the largest automobile conglomerate in China. The automaker sells vehicles under various brands. The Yuejin, Roewe, MG and Maxus brands are exclusive to SAIC. The brands used by the joint ventures are Buick, Chevrolet, Bajun, Volkswagen, Skoda, Iveco and Wuling. SAIC Motor Passenger Vehicle Company (SMPV), which is wholly owned by SAIC, is in charge of developing and manufacturing the Roewe and MG series. By 2015 SMPV plants to sell 700,000 Roewe and MG vehicles annually, which equates to three times the 2011 sales figure. SMPV additionally plans to launch three to four new models every year beginning in 2015.

The MG and Roewe models are developed primarily in Shanghai. The engineers in Shanghai work closely with engineers in Nanjing as well as Those in Longbridge near Birmingham, England. Longbridge recently opened the SAIC Motor Technical Centre (SMTC). The focus of the company still lies on successfully developing the brand.

"The joint ventures with VW and GM gave the company access to sophisticated technology. It is now independently continuing to develop this technology. The company strives to bring the technology up-to-date with the acquisition of MG and through the collaboration with SMTC in England, while also hiring qualified engineers in China. The MG 6, the Roewe 550, the Roewe 950 and the new MG 3 are presently manufactured in Shanghai, while the Roewe 350 and MG 5 are produced in Nanjing, and the Roewe 750 and the W5 SUV, which is particularly important for the Chinese market, are produced in Yangzhou. In Longbridge, the models developed in China are assembled with components manufactured in China for the European market. The models are positioned in the mid-range and luxury market segments. SMPV plans to sell the drive assemblies together with the transmissions to other companies, for example the SCM 250. The demands on the technical quality and cost-effective pricing are therefore very high.

SAIC will maintain the collaboration with international business partners. Notably the cooperation with GM is very close: they produce everything jointly, from the drive assembly to the transmission. This allows the technology to be kept up to date. HOERBIGER is also an important international business partner. The company supplies complete synchronizer systems for the three manual transmissions of SAIC Group which are the most advanced technologically. In the future, SAIC hopes to achieve progress with regard to developing new synchronizer system designs through the excellent cooperation with HOERBIGER.


HOERBIGER produces the synchronizer components that are intended for SAIC at its sites in Schongau, Germany, and Yangzhou, China. The synchronizer systems are completed in Yangzhou before they are shipped to the customer. HOERBIGER supplies SAIC with complete synchronizer systems for the SH78Z transmission installed in the Roewe 750. In 2012, SAIC relocated the transmission production to a newly constructed factory. This is where the new SCM 250 transmissions for the Roewe 350 and MG 5 as well as the SCM 360 transmissions for the MG 6 will soon roll off the line with synchronizer systems made by HOERBIGER. HOERBIGER will continue to support SAIC with innovations. Engineers from both companies are currently working on an Electrical Drive Unit (EDU). The center of this collaboration revolves around the application of a synchronizer unit on the drive an electric vehicle.


China, the world's largest automobile market, now has more than 6,500 companies which serve this continually growing market. Based on annual production, companies leading by a wide margin in 2011 included Shanghai Automotive Industry (Group) Corporation (SAIC) with four million vehicles, Dongfeng Motor Corporation (DMC) with 3.5 million vehicles, China First Automobile Group Corporation (FAW) with 2.6 million vehicles, and Chang'an with two million vehicles. These four companies accounted for 64 percent of China's total automobile production. As sales figures in China are decreasing, notably SAIC and FAW are making a push into the international market, attempting to also gain a foothold in the electric vehicle market segment.


Six years ago, SAIC and HOERBIGER jointly optimized the transmission for the Roewe 750. Over the years, the two partners have continued to expand their close working relationship: HOERBIGER supplies not only complete synchronizer systems for the Roewe 750, but is now also involved in the development of innovative synchronizer systems for the current and future model series. HOERBIGER cooperated with the engineers in Longbridge evenbefore SAIC acquired the company. This relationship had a global focus right from the start. While the SAIC Motor Technical Centre (SMTC) in England works closely with HOERBIGER Antriebstechnik GmbH in Schongau, Germany, SAIC engineers in Shanghai value the proximity of HOERBIGER development engineers at HOERBIGER Drive Technology (Yangzhou) Co. Ltd. HOERBIGER's global nature assures short paths for the customer and tailor-made solutions for any market.