Chongqing, the world’s leading motorcycle city
Written by David McMullan the ‘Englishman in China’
Chongqing is one of the leading automotive centres in the world and in terms of motorcycle and parts manufacture is unsurpassed producing roughly 12 million motorcycles a year.
Motorcycle production first began in China in 1951 when the People's Liberation Army began producing a 500cc motorcycle for military service and it on this theme that motorcycles continued to be produced until 1981 when military equipment factory Jialing in Chongqing (which had been producing arms for the military since 1875) was commissioned to produce civilian motorcycles (much like BSA). Although there are other huge motorcycles centres in China (Zhejiang and Guangdong primarily) their motorcycle companies are spread out over an area the size of a small country as opposed to Chongqing’s motorcycle companies which are all within a 10 dollar taxi fair from the centre of town. Also, Chongqing is the main production hub for exported motorcycles.
From January to April 2013, the top 10 Chinese motorcycle enterprises in terms of export volume are Loncin, Yinxiang, Lifan, Dayun, Sundiro Honda, Haojin, Zongshen, Shineray, Dachangjiang (Haojue), and Bashan. Their export volumes were 306,800, 210,400, 176,900, 143,700, 133,000, 131,200, 110,300, 107,000, 105,600, and 103,700 units respectively. Of this top 10, 6 motorcycle companies are situated in Chongqing (Loncin, Yinxiang, Lifan, Zongshen, Shineray and Bashan). Number 11 and 12 on this list are Chongqing stalwarts Jialing and Jianshe. All of these companies have the capacity to make over 1.5 million whole units per year.
At the time of writing there are 133 motorcycle manufacturing companies in Chongqing. Along with the countless motorcycle parts factories it is estimated that the automotive industry employs over 400 thousand workers; a significant percentage of the Chongqing workforce.
Chongqing is also the host of the Chinese national/ international level motorcycle trade exhibition, the China International Motorcycle Trade Exhibition (CIMAmotor expo). Since 2003 (when it started out as a local Chongqing motorcycle expo) the CIMAmotor expo has turned in to the biggest commuter motorcycle trade exhibition in the world. Each year more than 103000 people (including 32000 trade visitors) view over 450 exhibition stands (90 motorcycle companies and 360 parts and accessory companies) displaying more than 1000 motorcycle models and too many spare parts and accessories to count. CIMA represents 80% of the Chinese motorcycle industry including all of the top 50 factories with many companies choosing CIMA to launch their new products (112 new models were displayed in 2011); the expo generates over 100 million RMB on site.
Located at the core of the LiangJiang new business area in Yuelai exhibition town, the Chongqing International Expo Centre is one of the most impressively integrated conference, exhibition, catering, accommodation, and entertainment and events venues in the world. With a total area of 600000 square metres the centre is the 2nd biggest in China and top 10 in the world.
As a global top tier convention and expo centre it offers a multifunctional hall of 20000 sq m, 16 ground level column free halls measuring 11150 sq m each. The centre also boasts 100000 sq m of meeting and banqueting rooms, a 100000 sq m service zone and 11000 parking spaces. This exhibition centre has been constructed with the growing automotive and motorcycle industries in mind and is now the home of the Chongqing Auto show and the CIMAmotor expo as well as several smaller motorcycle parts fairs and forums.
2011 saw the launch of the bigger displacement motorcycles from China with Europe and North America primary market targets. With the Chinese domestic market greatly reduced due to Government policies banning the use of motorcycles in urban areas more and more Chongqing motorcycle companies are looking to export and have the EURO and DOT certificates of conformity or are looking for cooperative partners.
Chongqing municipality enjoys a certain amount of autonomy and freedom from Beijing, one of the benefits being that it is pretty much the only large urban centre that has no ban on motorcycles. This in turn has been of great benefit to the foreign motorcycle marques wishing to cash in on the huge disposable incomes of the new Chongqing middle-classes; most have whom have made their money in the motorcycle industry themselves. In the last year Harley-Davidson, Ducati and MV Agusta have opened in Chongqing and have reported that their Chongqing branches have fast become their most successful in China. This introduction of foreign motorcycle culture has had a positive effect on the Chongqing motorcycle industry, with many Chongqing companies partnering with international brands for technology improvement including Loncin and BMW, Zongshen and Piaggio and Jianshe and Yamaha.
Plans for a new ‘auto valley’ are in full swing in Chongqing. This will include thousands of acres of new factories and research and development centres and a F1 standard race track. Zo Fu from ChinaMotor magazine reports “the national trend of struggling Chinese motorcycle companies is not quite so bad here in Chongqing. Because resources are now being pushed in to the growing export markets, especially in Europe, we will see Chinese moto technology improve in leaps and bounds, this will be especially due to the new ‘auto valley. The smaller Zhejiang and Guangdong companies will suffer due to the ongoing ban on motorcycles in Chinese cities, and that inevitable affect on the domestic industry, but the Chongqing supply chain for export worthy goods is strong and getting stronger as more and more top quality foreign motorcycle parts companies invest in Chongqing.”
After a grim 2 years Chongqing motorcycle exports have stabilised and certain companies have reported record growth (Yinxiang exports are up over 20% this year). The mood in Chongqing is brighter than it has been for a while and it’s a mood that might lead this motorcycle power-house to greater and lasting success.