China's Finally Ready To Ease Ownership Rules On Foreign Carmakers

China removes limit on foreign automakers Tesla is poised to benefit quickly

It also signals the end of a rule put in place in 1994, in which the world's largest auto market limited foreign carmakers to owning no more than a 50 percent share of any local venture.

GAC is China's number six auto maker and it invested 1.2 billion yuan ($191 million) with a Chinese partner to develop smart new energy cars previous year.

China's state policy planner, the National Development and Reform Commission (NDRC), announced that that the country will scrap foreign investment limits (link in Chinese) for auto manufacturing, beginning with new energy vehicles this year, a category that includes both hybrid and fully battery-run vehicles. Tesla, however, was opposed to the idea and wanted to retain sole ownership of the facility. BMW, in talks to establish an electric MINI joint venture with Great Wall Motor Co., said it will make any decision through consensus with its partners, adding that it plans to continue and expand its existing venture with Brilliance Auto.

"We have no plans to change our investment ratio", said Keitaro Nakamura, a China-based spokesman for Honda Japan, which operates joint ventures with local state-run automakers Guangzhou Automobile Group and Dongfeng Motor.

"Nearly all the major global brands have set up their joint-ventures with Chinese partners and it will be unreasonable for them to add many new production lines in the market", Chen said.

Those losing out include local new-energy vehicle makers such as BAIC Motor Corp. and BYD Co., with BYD in particular set to face tougher competition from any lower-priced Teslas, said Dan Zhuang, an analyst at Rhb Osk Securities Hong Kong Ltd. The joint venture structure was now so ingrained that many automakers might not want to change it.

"While getting a bigger share could be advantageous in terms of boosting profits, they may actually be already too dependent on their Chinese partners to sever those ties".

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The liberalisation meets a longtime demand of the United States and other countries seeking better access for their companies in the world's biggest vehicle market and one of the largest markets for air travel.

A senior General Motors (GM) executive said last week the United States carmaker, even without ownership caps, would not cut ties with local partner SAIC Motor Corp. The source, who asked to remain anonymous because of the sensitivity of the matter, also said that GM would not be as successful in China on its own. General Motors said its growth in China is a result of working with its partners, and that it would keep doing so.

SAIC General Motors Sales Co., a joint venture between GM China and SAIC that was established on November 25, 2011.

Geely has bought a almost 10 percent stake in Daimler, becoming the German automaker's biggest shareholder and gaining leverage to push for technology sharing.

Other automakers are encouraged by the news.

The move may help diffuse tensions between China and the USA after President Donald Trump's intensified rhetoric risked an all-out trade war.

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