China is the world’s largest vehicle market, selling more than 28 million cars and trucks in 2016, compared with 18 million in the United States. Almost all the vehicles sold in China are made in China, supporting a diverse ecosystem of 76 component making conglomerates, and 184 vehicle assemblers, in addition to dozens of indigenous brands.
After a decade of double-digit growth, the market is now starting to mature. Most urban households have already purchased at
least one car, and, according to McKinsey & Company, half of those households are considering “trading up” to newer and better models. Meanwhile, the shape of China’s auto industry could change radically if Chinese authorities make good on their promise to eventually prohibit the sale of fossil-fuel-powered vehicles, in favor of those powered by batteries. Faced with the need to adapt, Chinese domestic auto makers are scouting the globe to buy premium brands, advanced technologies, and companies capable of conducting R&D into electric vehicles.
Hubei Bothwin Investment Co., Ltd. raised $76 million through private placement to acquire Austrian engine manufacturer Steyr Motors with its Chinese plant in Changzhou. Subsequently, the Hubei company renamed itself Steyr Power and transformed itself to specialize in manufacturing diesel engines for cars and boats. In 2016, 42% of its revenue came from markets outside of China. In January 2017, the company established a private equity arm with $150 million assets under management to scope out opportunities in engine technology and renewable energy.