Chinese company plans U.S. truck model

According to an article in China Daily, Chinese heavy-duty truck maker Beiqi Foton Motor Co. is planning a vehicle for the U.S. and Western European market. The Auman GTL (which stands for global technology leader) was designed for the strict environmental requirements of the U.S. and Europe, the company said.

“Foton has already established a good presence in the Southeast Asian, South American and African markets, but it barely achieved anything in developed economies,” Wang Jinyu, president & CEO, told China Daily. “Now we are endeavoring to enter the mature markets including the U.S., Europe and Japan.”

According to Wang, the vehicle includes high-quality materials similar to those found in U.S. trucks and cost $266 million to develop.

“It is not easy to get a piece of the pie in this highly competitive market,” Wang said. “But we will inch in with patience.”

Wang also noted that aftermarket sales and support is a concern, but Foton’s work with Cummins Inc. will help in that regard.

Cummins has already built more than 100 service stores overseas, which greatly facilitate our after-sales services,” Wang said, adding that the company hopes to build distribution and aftermarket service networks over the next year or two.

“We will build 100 to 200 franchise stores in the U.S. and Europe, before we begin to export this model,” he said.

It may be years, if ever, before U.S. buyers see the trucks here, though. According to John Zeng, director of Asian Forecasting at J.D. Power Asia Pacific, breaking into the U.S. and European markets is a tough task for Foton.

“If Foton wants to conquer the Western European markets, it will probably take a long time,” he said. “In China, heavy-duty trucks are purchased mostly by small enterprises, which prefer cheap products. In Europe, big companies with high requirements for services are the main buyers.”