중앙데일리

Look out locals, here come the Chinese buses

June 16,2007
In a sign of future competition from a giant neighbor, the first Chinese-made motor vehicle to be imported into South Korea ― a double-decker bus ― will start operation next month.
Big Motors, a tour-related vehicle importer, announced yesterday that it will have the Chinese bus serve tourist routes in Seoul.
The bus is made by a subsidiary manufacturer of the German-based bus and coach maker Neoplan, which is a unit of the German MAN.
Two more buses are expected to arrive by the end of this month. The company is expecting about eight more units within this year.
“The first few would be for our own charter bus services,” said Kim Seung-min, president of Big Motors.
“But, after that we will also have them on the market for sale.”
The Busan city government is also scheduled to import Chinese double-deckers to serve on tourist routes.
The Chinese bus has high price-competitiveness, said the importer. The double decker from China costs about $510,000 while a similar model from the German mother company would be $720,000.
The Korean government levies about 10 percent in tariffs on imported buses.
The Korean bus industry, which has been nurtured in the protective greenhouse of Korea’s tariff barriers, is looking at the import with worry, said Lee Un-taek, an analyst at Daehan Investments & Security.
Currently, the size of the Korean bus market is about 12,000 units annually. The market is divided between Hyundai Motor, Kia Motors and Daewoo Bus. Considering that Hyundai is the parent of Kia, the market is dominated by only two companies.
Lee warned that once domestic demand in China lags, then Chinese companies will turn their interest to foreign markets.
“Not many Chinese auto manufacturers are exporting their cars. Their quality is still lower than other global competitors. But the bigger reason is that the Chinese market is big enough to consume their production.”
China is already the world’s third largest automobile manufacturer.
“It will not be not long before Chinese-made Volkswagens and Audis will be in the Korean market,” said Lee.


By Hwang Young-jin Staff Writer[yhwang@joongang.co.kr]


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