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.

In 2013, Lifan achieved a sales income of 26.016 billion RMB, including a production and sales of 370,800 cars, 1.4889 million motorcycles, 3.5631 million engines and 363,000 general-purpose engines with export of 865 million USD. By December 2013, Lifan has applied 8607 patents, out of which 7500 have been authorized, and with various index in the leading position nationwide, Lifan is a big tax-payer among Chongqing private enterprises.

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]

Trademark dispute with Honda Motor[edit]

Up to 2001, Chongqing Lifan Group was formerly known as Chongqing Hongda Industrial after a name change due to a case initiated by Honda Motor.,[12] but Lifan continued to use the name “Hongda” on its motorcycles until a widely reported court ruling in late-2004. There was also a case where Lifan used a “SOR” logo on its motorcycles, of which Honda contended that it was too similar to its “SCR” logo, of which Lifan changed the "C" to an "O" while maintaining the style.[13]

Lifan also used Chinese characters for “Hongda”, and claimed that it was distinguishable from “Bentian” (Honda in Chinese characters).[14]

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.[15]
  • 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.[4][6]

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.[16] 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.[17]

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.[18] 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)[19] by Holland Car Company.[20] Cars assembled in Ethiopia may now bear the Lifan name,[21] and an after sales service center for Lifan automobiles exists in the capital, Addis Ababa, as of 2010.[22] In early 2010, Lifan established an automobile assembly factory in Azerbaijan.[23] At the time, Lifan already assembled cars in Iran as well.[24] In 2010, a 40,000 units/year production capacity assembly plant was established in Uruguay.[24]

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.[23] The company has sold in many countries and in every continent except Antarctica.[25]

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.[26]

Lifan has sold motorcycles in Japan since 2001.[1] Lifan automobiles have been sold in Laos and Syria since 2009.[27][28]

Lifan motorcycles and dirt bikes are available in Canada[25] and Mexico. As of 2009, a single model was on offer in this country.[29]

Some small passenger car models are sold in Brazil,[30] Guatemala,[31] Peru,[32] and Uruguay.[33]

Some of the cars Lifan exports are in the form of knock-down kits.[24] 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 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 Lifan IPO latest in quest for capital chinadaily.com.cn, 2010-11-29
  6. ^ a b c d e f g h i 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. ^ Ten Chinese and foreign intellectual property dispute cases http://prolaywers.daiwa-hotcom.com/ten-chinese-and-foreign-intellectual-property-dispute-case.html
  13. ^ Honda, Lifan locked in trademark disagreement http://www.chinadaily.com.cn/english/doc/2004-06/03/content_336280.htm
  14. ^ Honda wins motorcycle trademark case in China http://autonews.gasgoo.com/china-news/honda-wins-motorcycle-trademark-case-in-china-090713.shtml
  15. ^ Saturday, April 24, 2010 (2010-04-24). "No, it's not a Mini...". Autocar.co.uk. Retrieved 2010-09-13. 
  16. ^ Factory in Vietnam Lifan Official Site (Web Archive)
  17. ^ Lifan320, Lifan620 Landed in Vietnam Lifan Official Site, 9/9/2009
  18. ^ "CHINESE AUTOMAKER LIFAN'S 320 STARTS PRODUCTION IN RUSSIA", Asia Pulse (Rhodes), Mar 23, 2011 
  19. ^ Blue Nile flows in Ethiopia ---- Lifan Motors in Ethiopia Lifan Official Site, 19/3/2009
  20. ^ Official Launching of Lifan Wholly-owned Subsidiary in Ethiopia Lifan Official Site, 5/1/2010
  21. ^ The First Batch Lifan Cars in Ethiopia From a Wholly Owned Subsidiary of Lifan Motors Offlined Lifan Official Site, 3/3/2010
  22. ^ Vehicle Delivery & After-sales Service Station Launching Ceremony of Lifan Motors in Ethiopia Lifan Official Site, 15/4/2010
  23. ^ a b LIFAN MOTORS RANKED 2ND AMONG CHINESE EXPORTERS Lifan Official Site, 6/7/2010
  24. ^ a b c Assembly Plant of Lifan Motors Settles Down in Uruguay Lifan Official Site, 6/4/2010
  25. ^ a b Global Lifan > Global Network (image) Lifan Official Site (Web Archive)
  26. ^ Chi Siamo Martin Motors Official Site
  27. ^ Lifan Motors Launches in Laos Lifan Official Site, 25/11/2009
  28. ^ The First 4S Store of Lifan Motors Opened in Syria Lifan Official Site, 3/6/2009
  29. ^ Hermosa, Jessica Anne D. (February 4, 2009). "Lifan out to prove that China cars mean quality". BusinessWorld. pp. S1/9. 
  30. ^ Lifan Motors Brazil web site lifanmotors.com.br
  31. ^ Lifan Landing in Guatemala, Full-scale Covering Mid-America Lifan Official Site, 6/7/2010
  32. ^ Lifan320 Launches in Peru, Leading Popularity of LIFAN MINI Lifan Official Site, 13/5/2010
  33. ^ Productos grupoaler.com

External links[edit]