Lifan Group

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Lifan Industry (Group) Co., Ltd.
Type Public company
Traded as SSE: 601777
Industry Automotive
Founded 1992 (Chongqing)[1]
Founders Yin Mingshan
Headquarters Chongqing, China
Key people Yin Mingshan (Chairman)
You Shang (President)
Products Commercial vehicles
Passenger cars
Microvans
Dirt bike engines
Motorcycles
Sports shoes
Wine
Employees 13,653[2]
Website lifan.com
Lifan Group
Simplified Chinese 力帆实业(集团)股份有限公司
Literal meaning "Great Sail" Industry (Group) Co., Ltd.

Lifan Industry (Group) Co., Ltd. (Lifan Group or Lifan[3][4] 力帆 "great sail"; SSE: 601777) is a privately owned Chinese motorcycle and automobile manufacturer headquartered in Chongqing, southwest China. It was founded in 1992 and began the manufacture of automobiles in 2005, with license-built microvans and a small sedan developed by Lifan themselves.[5]

Lifan's vehicle products include passenger cars, microvans, dirt bike engines, entry-level motorcycles, mini-vehicles, and commercial trucks.[6] The company's non-vehicle-related activities include the manufacture of sports shoes and winemaking.[7] Outside of China, Lifan is currently best known for the sale of small passenger cars in developing markets.

Lifan's 2009 automobile sales were a modest 43,000 units, although the company still managed to be China's third largest exporter of cars in that year.[5] Lifan's vehicle production capacity was around 300,000 units in 2010,[6] double that of 2006.[1] The company was ranked the 88th-largest in China in 2009.[6]

History[edit]

A Lifan truck, 2009

Lifan was founded by former political dissident Yin Mingshan in 1992 as a motorcycle repair shop with a staff of nine. Mingshan has a long history of conflict with governmental authorities of all stripes but currently enjoys a good relationship with the Chinese Communist Party.[7] The company was originally called "Chongqing Hongda Auto Fittings Research Centre".[8] Lifan had already become a major motorcycle manufacturer when it expanded into building buses in 2003.[9]

Becoming the fifth-largest Chinese motorcycle maker in only seventeen years,[5] the company was renamed Lifan Industry Group in 1997.[8] In 2003, Lifan acquired Chongqing Special Purpose Use Vehicle Manufacturing Co Ltd.[6] and in 2004 Lifan acquired Anhui Huayang Auto Manufacturing Co., Ltd.[10]

2005 saw commencement of automobile production, beginning with the LF6361/1010 minivan and pickup based on the 1999 Daihatsu Atrai. In December 2005, Lifan's first independent development, the 520 sedan with a Brazilian Tritec engine, entered production.[9] Lifan's current automobile lineup (as of autumn 2011) consists of the subcompact 320, the compact sedan and hatchback 520, the slightly larger 620 sedan, and the X60 compact SUV.[11]

Lifan made an IPO on the Shanghai Stock Exchange in late-2010.[5] Several years prior, Lifan petitioned the Chinese State to allow the creation of more private banks, in order to allow better investment opportunities for privately run businesses.[7]

Products[edit]

Current and former Lifan products include:

  • Lifan LF6361/1010 - this small minivan and pickup is based on the 1999 Daihatsu Atrai, but has since been replaced
  • Lifan 520 - built since 2005, this small sedan was Lifan's first original development.
    • Lifan 520i - the hatchback version of the 520, with its own bodywork
  • Lifan 320 - a small hatchback, famous for being a fairly straightforward copy of the current Mini.[12]
  • Lifan 620 - a somewhat larger sedan
  • Lifan X60 - Lifan's first SUV
  • Lifan Foison - introduced in 2011, this minivan range is based on the earlier LF6361 series.
Lifan 320 
Lifan 520i 
Lifan 520 
Lifan 620 
Lifan 720 
Lifan X60 
Lifan X50 
Lifan Truck 

Operations[edit]

Production facilities[edit]

Lifan has two passenger-car assembly plants in China.[6][4]

Now boasting motorcycle production bases in Thailand, Turkey, and Vietnam,[1] Lifan first established a presence in Vietnam in 1999 that made motorcycles and parts.[13] Beginning in March 2007, assembly of the 520 sedan commenced in Vietnam.[6] By mid-2009, the 320, 520i, and 620 had also been built or assembled in this country.[14]

Overseas assembly factories make Lifan-branded automobiles sold to domestic audiences but are not necessarily affiliated with Lifan in any way. Such assembly has occurred in Egypt.[1] Assembly of automobiles in Russia began in August 2007,[6] and in early 2011, the 320 model became the third Lifan product to see local production.[15] From 2007 until 2010, the Lifan 520 was assembled in Ethiopia from imported knock-down kits under the name of "Abay" (Amharic for the Blue Nile)[16] by Holland Car Company.[17] Cars assembled in Ethiopia may now bear the Lifan name,[18] and an after sales service center for Lifan automobiles exists in the capital, Addis Ababa, as of 2010.[19] In early 2010, Lifan established an automobile assembly factory in Azerbaijan.[20] At the time, Lifan already assembled cars in Iran as well.[21] In 2010, a 40,000 units/year production capacity assembly plant was established in Uruguay.[21]

Research and development[edit]

At the end of 2006, Lifan held over 3,800 patents, the largest number of any Chinese automobile company,[1] of which at least 346 of were held by Lifan's automobile division.[6]

Sales[edit]

A Lifan 520 at a dealership in Chile in 2009

Access to profitable export markets, something the Chinese State allowed the company in 1998,[6] means that this maker of automobiles and motorcycles does what many Chinese automakers desire: it sells in developed overseas markets like the EU and Japan.[6]

While finding more markets for its motorcycle-related products, Lifan has exported passenger cars to 51 countries.[6] In 2010, its automotive exports were rivaled by only Chery.[20] The company has sold in many countries and in every continent except Antarctica.[22]

Allowed access in 2003, Lifan motorcycle products are sold in 18 European countries.[1] The Italian importer Martin Motors rebadges and sells two small Lifan passenger car models under its own name.[23]

Lifan has sold motorcycles in Japan since 2001.[1] Lifan automobiles have been sold in Laos and Syria since 2009.[24][25]

Lifan motorcycles and dirt bikes are available in Canada[22] and Mexico. As of 2009, a single model was on offer in this country.[26]

Some small passenger car models are sold in Brazil,[27] Guatemala,[28] Peru,[29] and Uruguay.[30]

Some of the cars Lifan exports are in the form of knock-down kits.[21] Put together in small, local workshops, selling such kits is an easy way for the company to gain access to developing markets.

Sponsorships[edit]

Lifan was formerly the owner of the Chinese super league football team Chongqing Lifan; since 2005 it has been a sponsor of the team.

References[edit]

  1. ^ a b c d e f g About Lifan Group Lifan Official Site (Web Archive)
  2. ^ Lifan website
  3. ^ "About Lifan Group". Official website of Lifan Group. Retrieved 2011-01-25. 
  4. ^ a b China's Lifan Industry to debut in Shanghai this week reuters.com, Wed Nov 24, 2010 8:37am IST
  5. ^ a b c d Lifan IPO latest in quest for capital chinadaily.com.cn, 2010-11-29
  6. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k Corporate profile Lifan official site
  7. ^ a b c "The communist entrepreneur: Yin Mingshan shows how to make profits and political friends in China". The Economist. 2003-03-27. 
  8. ^ a b Great Events of Lifan Group from 1999 to 2005 Lifan official site
  9. ^ a b World of Cars 2006·2007. Warsaw, Poland: Media Connection Sp. z o.o. 2006. p. 236. 
  10. ^ http://www.chinabidding.com/news.jhtml?method=detail&channelId=277&docId=493122
  11. ^ "Chinese Brands". ChinaAutoWeb.com. Retrieved 2011-09-14. 
  12. ^ Saturday, April 24, 2010 (2010-04-24). "No, it's not a Mini...". Autocar.co.uk. Retrieved 2010-09-13. 
  13. ^ Factory in Vietnam Lifan Official Site (Web Archive)
  14. ^ Lifan320, Lifan620 Landed in Vietnam Lifan Official Site, 9/9/2009
  15. ^ "CHINESE AUTOMAKER LIFAN'S 320 STARTS PRODUCTION IN RUSSIA", Asia Pulse (Rhodes), Mar 23, 2011 
  16. ^ Blue Nile flows in Ethiopia ---- Lifan Motors in Ethiopia Lifan Official Site, 19/3/2009
  17. ^ Official Launching of Lifan Wholly-owned Subsidiary in Ethiopia Lifan Official Site, 5/1/2010
  18. ^ The First Batch Lifan Cars in Ethiopia From a Wholly Owned Subsidiary of Lifan Motors Offlined Lifan Official Site, 3/3/2010
  19. ^ Vehicle Delivery & After-sales Service Station Launching Ceremony of Lifan Motors in Ethiopia Lifan Official Site, 15/4/2010
  20. ^ a b LIFAN MOTORS RANKED 2ND AMONG CHINESE EXPORTERS Lifan Official Site, 6/7/2010
  21. ^ a b c Assembly Plant of Lifan Motors Settles Down in Uruguay Lifan Official Site, 6/4/2010
  22. ^ a b Global Lifan > Global Network (image) Lifan Official Site (Web Archive)
  23. ^ Chi Siamo Martin Motors Official Site
  24. ^ Lifan Motors Launches in Laos Lifan Official Site, 25/11/2009
  25. ^ The First 4S Store of Lifan Motors Opened in Syria Lifan Official Site, 3/6/2009
  26. ^ Hermosa, Jessica Anne D. (February 4, 2009). "Lifan out to prove that China cars mean quality". BusinessWorld. pp. S1/9. 
  27. ^ Lifan Motors Brazil web site lifanmotors.com.br
  28. ^ Lifan Landing in Guatemala, Full-scale Covering Mid-America Lifan Official Site, 6/7/2010
  29. ^ Lifan320 Launches in Peru, Leading Popularity of LIFAN MINI Lifan Official Site, 13/5/2010
  30. ^ Productos grupoaler.com

External links[edit]