Recap | AmCham Shanghai 2023 Automotive Conference - Automobility
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Recap | AmCham Shanghai 2023 Automotive Conference

On Wednesday, October 18, AmCham Shanghai held its 2023 Automotive Conference at the Hualuxe Shanghai Twelve at Hengshan. Nearly 100 attendees joined the event.

The conference began with a keynote address from Bill Russo, Founder & CEO of Automobility and Chair of the AmCham Shanghai Automotive Committee. Bill laid out the disruptions facing industry players, including supply chain challenges, the shift in buying behavior towards electric vehicles and smart connectivity, and new retail trends. Bill also presented his monthly update on China’s auto industry, focusing on the growing share of new energy vehicles in auto sales and exports. As China’s domestic market remains weak, exports have soared as a way to deal with overcapacity, and China is now the second-largest exporter. This is also the first year that domestic brands will outsell foreign brands in the Chinese market.

Bill then led a conversation with Sam Wu, CEO of Ford China, on how foreign companies are adjusting to the changing auto market. Sam discussed the need to differentiate yourself by finding your best fit in the saturated market, using the example of Ford’s strength in the commercial vehicle space. The two also discussed the US-China relationship and how foreign companies here can leverage China’s going global.

Junna Shi, Partner at McKinsey, presented an overview of the Chinese economy. She covered data on GDP growth, the purchasing managers index, fixed asset investment, the property market, cross-border trade, foreign direct investment, urban unemployment, household savings, producer and consumer inflation, travel figures, and fiscal revenue.

The final speaker of the morning was Boni Sa, Director of Automotive Planning Solutions at S&P Global Mobility Automotive, who delivered his outlook on the automotive industry. He discussed light vehicle sales and production recovery, electrification trends in each region and electrification’s impact on the Chinese market structure, autonomous driving and electrical/electronic architecture and infrastructure.

In the afternoon, Ken Jarrett, Senior Advisor at Albright Stonebridge Group, presented on how companies can mitigate geopolitical risks. Globalization and thus geopolitics as a major worry are not going to go away, and the US-China rivalry will remain intense with a focus on competition. His suggestions for companies included providing feedback on draft regulations; nurturing relationships with officials; showing your contribution to Chinese development; exploring your de-risking options; looking local for team members, partners and investments; and checking your messaging for all audiences.
The presentation was followed by a panel discussion about how an increasingly bifurcated world is transforming the auto supply chain. Moderator Xiaozhi Liu, Founder and CEO of ASL Automobile Science & Technology, was joined by representatives from two auto suppliers: Zhen Wu, President China of Magna International and Sng Yih, President China of Autoliv. Topics included how being adaptive for the global market; the urgency to build partnerships with Chinese OEMs; chips as a major concern for the future; electrification technologies; supplier competition; and the need for local autonomy.
The last event of the day was a panel on the topic of Chinese innovation, moderated by Ken Jarrett. The panelists were Simon Yang, President of Aptiv Asia Pacific; Don Williams, Partner at Hogan Lovells; and Bill Russo. Bill first explained the current competitive landscape in China, dividing auto companies with a hardware-centric business model from those with a digital-centric business model. The panelists discussed China’s advantages in commercializing technology and in EV innovation through its embrace of the digital world; changing innovation processes throughout society and how Chinese companies gained an advantage over foreign firms by betting on EVs early; how global OEMs can catch up; and the need for all industry players to embrace EV to survive.

Thank you to our sponsors Yusen Logistics and Tianjin Economic-Technological Development Area (TEDA) for making this year’s conference a success. Thank you to Bill Russo as well for his great contributions to the conference and for his leadership as committee chair.

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