Africa Gateway To World, China Automaker Says

Africa Gateway To World, China Automaker Says

Chinese motorcycle and automaker Yin Minshan wants his company, Lifan Group, to be the best in the world and to do that, he says he must grow less developed overseas markets such as Africa, according to a report in China Daily.

“Operating costs are lower there compared with in the U.S. and the European Union, and that offers us a strong foothold to develop into a global giant,” he said in the report.

Yin established Lifan Group in Chongqing in 1992 with nine employees and $36,000. Now it’s one of China’s largest motorcycle and automakers, earning $3.3 billion last year, according to China Daily.

Lifan started selling motorcycles to Nigeria in 1998. In 2012, the company sold 80,000 motorcycles  worth $70 million 1,000 cars worth $30 million in Africa, representing about a sixth of the company’s exports, Yin said in a China Daily interview.

Yin has 140-plus dealers in Africa, Latin America and Southeast Asia with five factories in Thailand, Turkey, Ethiopia,Uruguay and Vietnam, and one planned in Russia.

The Ethiopian auto factory has 150 employees and produces 2,000 cars, he said. He plans on adding a second Ethiopian factory by November.

“It’s expected that production capacity of our Ethiopian factory will be up to about 10,000 cars a year then, and our sales in Africa will certainly increase based on that expansion,” he said in the interview.

Yin said he expects Africa sales to grow 10 percent a year until 2015.

“Profit is bigger than in most of our overseas markets such as Southeast Asia,” he said in the China Daily report.