Foton goes glocal
Its global strategic brand, technology alliances seen as boon to local market growthBy Alvin Uy
Philippine Daily Inquirer
China’s largest commercial vehicle manufacturer, Foton Motors, has set its sights on the global commercial vehicle market, with its presence reinforced by its recent tie-up with German automaker Daimler AG.
Daimler is the world’s second largest truck manufacturer in the world. Aside from its partnership with Daimler, it also has a joint venture with Cummins Engine Co. Ltd., established in 2008. This is the engine that powers the new Thunder pickup truck model. Foton has a distribution and service network of over 2,700 dealers and 4,400 service centers in China and more than 100 distributors and 400 service centers internationally in over 100 countries. Founded on August 1996, as the Beiqi Foton Motor Co. Ltd. It later became Foton Motor and went public in 1998. By 2002, it began production of its first heavy truck under the Auman brand. Foton is now ranked 34th in the Chinese Top 500 Most Valuable Brands with an estimated brand value of RMB 34 billion.
Most aggressive, successful
Locally, it is the most aggressive and successful Chinese auto brand, not only enjoying private sector demand for its vehicles but also attracting a growing number of government fleet accounts that includes police and ambulance vehicles. Foton is locally and exclusively distributed by United Asia Automotive Group Inc. (UAAGI) since 2006, and has grown to 20 dealerships nationwide in just a span of 5 years. Here are some of the global and local highlights for Foton this 2012.
In this year’s Beijing Auto Show, it had showcased its new lineup of Auman trucks and has began production of units under its joint venture under Beijing Foton Daimler Auto (BFDA). “Daimler is showcasing our entire line of products with an exciting array of exhibitions and press conferences highlighting how we are bringing innovation to China and developing new technology in this country right here, right now,” said Ulrich Walker, chair and CEO of Daimler Northeast Asia Ltd. This was announced a few months ago during the 12th Beijing International Automotive Exhibition, also known as Auto China 2012. Located at Beijing’s China International Exhibition Center, it showcased 1,125 vehicles with 120 World Premieres and had over 230,000 square meters of exhibition space. This includes 74 concept cars and 88 alternative energy vehicle exhibits. Some one dozen members of the Philippine motoring media were invited by UAAGI to attend this biennial auto exhibition held last April.
Currently, Daimler owns and produces Mercedes-Benz, Smart, Freightliner and Maybach car and truck brands among others. The German automaker also holds substantial stakes in Mitsubishi Fuso Truck and Bus Corp.and aerospace company EADS. It also owns the Vodafone McLaren Mercedes Formula One racing team. “BFDA combines the best of both worlds. Foton brings with it the successful Auman business, which includes its development, production and sales network. Besides our financial contribution, Daimler supplies the state-of-the-art OM457 Mercedes-Benz motor, which will also be produced locally,” said Sefan Albrecht, EVP of BFDA.
With its successful introduction of the Blizzard pickup, Foton held the debut of its new Cummins-powered pickup. With a larger chassis and cabin, its was well received by the local market. The Thunder was introduced last April at the Manila International Auto Show held at the World Trade Center. UAAGI is also planning to set up an assembly plant at Clarkfield, Pampanga to cater its growing market in the country.
Foton’s The Big Show
Last October, Foton showcased its new lineup of vehicles and construction equipment at the World Trade Center dubbed as the “Big Show.” This is its second annual and exclusive exhibition of its complete product line of commercial vehicles that is targeted to empower not only to private enterprises but to government and other institutional requirements as well. With its various programs like its “power-up” trade in deal with pre-owned vehicles and the event’s on-site bank financing, test-drive activities and seminars that covered technical training, road safety, responsible driving, vehicle registration and licensing. It is the first Chinese automotive brand to be accredited with bank financing. It was also during this event where it introduced the Foton E-Jeep electric vehicle, targeting institutions with environmental advocacies. (Over a thousand electric buses now ply the streets of China’s capital, Beijing).
Its expansion plans include setting up of more manufacturing hubs in Russia, India, Brazil, Mexico and Indonesia as part of its 2020 Strategy. Just last year, production officially began on June 21, 2011, on its newest Beijing multipurpose vehicle plant that is mainly dedicated for the production of its MPV, pickup, SUV and CUV lines.
With a total production capacity of up to 200,000 vehicles per year, it is capable of producing 400,000 gasoline direct injection turbocharged engines as well as 10,000 heavy machinery engines annually. With growing concerns about environmental compliance, these engines will be Euro-V compliant and some with upgrade potential for Euro-VI emission standard.
For more information about Foton, contact (02) 4592121/0922-8017217 or log on to www.foton.com.ph. You can also email firstname.lastname@example.org and like FOTON Philippines on Facebook.