Auto Industry Development Pioneer, SAIC Volkswagen Helps China’s Dream of Automobile Power

  International online car channel news: Looking back on the past hundred years, the key words that have always been implemented are not afraid of difficulties and risks, and hard work. As one of the pillars of the national economy, the automobile industry has experienced unremitting struggle from scratch to strength.

  Chinese employees pose with German experts in front of a white Santana that has just rolled off the assembly line on April 11, 1983, in a workshop at the Shanghai Automobile Factory. Everyone’s faces are brimming with excitement. Without flowers and wine, this simple rolling-off ceremony marked the beginning of a new era for Chinese cars.

[Automotive Channel News + News List] The vanguard of the development of the automobile industry, SAIC Volkswagen helps China's automobile power dream _fororder_image001

On April 11, 1983, the first Santana rolled off the assembly line

  If Columbus’s voyage opened up the New World, then SAIC Volkswagen, the first batch of automobile companies to enter the Chinese automobile joint venture catalog, connected the world of automobiles. Since its establishment in the 1980s, SAIC Volkswagen has grown and developed together with China’s opening up process, led pioneering innovation, and continued to promote the transformation of the domestic automobile industry.

[Automotive Channel News + News List] The vanguard of the development of the automobile industry, SAIC Volkswagen helps China's automobile power dream _fororder_image002

SAIC Volkswagen

  Joint venture, a pioneer in the development of the automotive industry

  In the 1970s, China’s car industry was still in a state of small scale and low degree of mechanization. As China gradually opened up to the world and embraced the desire to develop an automobile power, China and other countries began to negotiate the establishment of joint ventures for cars. In 1978, the prelude to the automobile joint venture was officially opened. In October of the same year, a Chinese machinery delegation visited Europe and began to discuss the joint venture construction of car enterprises with Schmidt, then chairperson of Volkswagen Group, which opened the prelude to Sino-German cooperation.

  As the first person to eat crabs, it is natural to accept more challenges. To this end, the state has absorbed the opinions of Chinese and German negotiators. The negotiation of this joint venture project of SAIC Volkswagen has provided valuable examples and experience for the follow-up joint venture work not only in automobiles, but also in other industries in our country, and has become a pioneer of pioneering and innovation. After six years of long negotiations, Volkswagen Group and SAIC Group signed a joint venture contract in the Great Hall of the People in Beijing in October 1984, and SAIC Volkswagen was officially established. As a bridge between China and Germany and the vanguard of the domestic automobile industry, SAIC Volkswagen introduced advanced manufacturing technology and a sound quality management system into China, and a new pattern of using foreign capital, introducing technology and accelerating development in China’s automobile industry began.

[Automotive Channel News + News List] The vanguard of the development of the automobile industry, SAIC Volkswagen helps China's automobile power dream _fororder_image003

On October 12, 1984, the groundbreaking ceremony of Shanghai Volkswagen Automobile Co., Ltd

  "Whirlwind" Santana, a model of car localization

  After China and Germany started to cooperate, they first needed to determine which product to introduce. At that time, the German side recommended the "Audi 80" or "Santana" models. After research by the Chinese side, the new model Santana with the latest materials, technology and craftsmanship at that time was favored. Santana was the latest product of German Volkswagen at that time. It had a simple and generous appearance, spacious space, outstanding safety and economy, and was suitable for use as domestic official vehicles and commercial vehicles.

[Automotive Channel News + News List] The vanguard of the development of the automobile industry, SAIC Volkswagen helps China's automobile power dream _fororder_image004

Santana Pipeline

  Quality Standards for localization caused controversy at the time. According to the contract, localized Santana parts had to be sent to Germany for technical certification by Volkswagen. Due to the fact that the production conditions and technical level of the domestic automobile manufacturing industry were still in their infancy at that time, production defects were inevitable, which was not allowed in the eyes of strict German experts.

  In 1988, the quality standard for the localization of Santana was officially concluded: "The localization of Santana cannot be’melons and vegetables’, and the localized parts must adhere to the German Volkswagen standard, 100% qualified, and 0.1% reduction is not required." The phrase "no melons and vegetables" has been widely praised, and SAIC Volkswagen has also adhered to high standards.

  Adhere to quality first and form an auto parts industry chain

  In order to overcome the problem of "improving the localization rate of Santana", SAIC Volkswagen, with the help of governments at all levels, started a series of key innovation work again. At that time, the situation of Chinese auto parts enterprises was a lack of technology and money. To improve the localization rate, it was necessary to carry out technological transformation of auto parts enterprises. Large transformation costs were the main obstacle to improving the localization rate at that time.

  In 1988, the "localization fund" was officially established, which fundamentally solved the problem of funding for the introduction of technology and equipment by parts and components enterprises. Also in 1988, 105 parts and components supporting enterprises, 6 universities, and 7 scientific research institutes jointly established the "Santana Community". The localization of Santana is no longer a matter of one enterprise, but a problem of the entire city, and even China’s automobile industry. With policy support and financial support, a large number of parts and components enterprises began to reinvent themselves and grow. Even later, as long as the quality standard has been approved by SAIC Volkswagen, other manufacturers will directly purchase it and become "inspection-free products".

  Within the company, SAIC Volkswagen hired more than 20 retired engineers from Germany’s Volkswagen to train and guide the production of parts, strictly in accordance with the German "six gates", namely the entry gate, the first sample pass, the tooling sample pass, the quality assurance system evaluation pass, the batch supply pass and the official supply pass, to achieve 100% qualified localization of parts. At the same time, if the domestic local parts factory wants to become a supplier of SAIC Volkswagen, it must be re-transformed according to German standards, and the parts can only pass the inspection after being tested by German standards. In this process, SAIC Volkswagen worked with Germany to gradually establish a complete industrial chain including Product Research & Development, parts supply system, modern vehicle production system, and fully functional sales and after-sales services system. This modern automotive industry system was first put into practice in China through SAIC Volkswagen. In terms of parts system, the Chinese and German partners mobilized more than 300 parts manufacturers of the Volkswagen Group around the world to encourage and support these manufacturers to transfer technology to China, establish joint ventures, and realize local production. Ultimately, the Sino-German partners jointly established more than 400 high-quality parts enterprises, which became the core of China’s auto parts system and laid the foundation for the development of the domestic auto industry.

[Automotive Channel News + News List] The vanguard of the development of the automobile industry, SAIC Volkswagen helps China's automobile power dream _fororder_image005

January 28, 1992 Celebration of the cumulative production of 100,000 Santana sedans

  Through the joint efforts of all members, in the early 1990s, the localization rate of Santana finally reached 90%, and the annual output exceeded 3,500 vehicles. Overcoming language barriers and technical gaps, the integration of localization technology and German standards has introduced a manufacturing process that is synchronized with the world for the domestic automobile industry, and also brought quality cars that are in line with international standards to domestic consumers.

  The development of SAIC Volkswagen is like the epitome of China’s opening up, and every pioneering and innovation has become a driving force. Looking forward in 2021, every person and story involved has become a symbol, recording the original bravery and creativity of Chinese cars and Chinese builders. (Image source: SAIC Volkswagen)