New home for international automotive R&D


China Daily - Independent car design and R&D companies could be entering the fast lane in China as the center of global automotive manufacturing shifts towards the biggest auto market worldwide.

Seventeen domestic and international automotive design and R&D companies signed contracts with Shanghai International Automobile City on May 9 to start operations at its Auto Research and Development Harbor, which broke ground on the same day.

At an investment of 1.5 billion yuan ($237 million), the development in Anting town in the northwestern suburbs of Shanghai will cover an area of 12 hectares and house about 150 companies after it is completed in 18 months.

Its developer plans to attract mostly medium-sized and small enterprises that focus on car design, the weakest link for domestic carmakers, said Rong Wenwei, general manager of the auto city.

He said that independent design and R&D companies based at the harbor are expected to help narrow the gap between domestic and overseas brands.

The first batch of companies signed to settle at the harbor include Italy's car design firm Pininfarina, which made its name by sculpting designs for Ferrari and Alfa Romeo. It was the first Western design house to cooperate with Chinese carmakers when it completed work for Brilliance Auto and Chery.

The firm said it will build up a team of more than 100 people of mostly local talent at the harbor in the next few years.

Recent foreign reports cited Silvio Pietro Angori, the firm's CEO, saying that China is likely to become the biggest market for Pininfarina by the end of this year, supplanting Germany in annual revenue. Currently about 35 percent of the firm's global revenue is generated by each country.

Germany's systems and software provider ESG Group said it will move its entire China automotive electronics office from downtown Shanghai to the harbor after construction is completed where more than 50 staff will work in the next three to five years.

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