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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
I'm quite intrigued by the existence of what I call 'generic' cars in China. There are many different companies making vehicles that look almost the same, with highly similar specifications. I want to explore this subject a little further.

Generic cars are mostly of the body-on-frame type. For light vehicles we're talking about (mini)vans, (mini)trucks, pickups and pickup-based SUV's. These vehicles are quite simple in construction and consist of three main components:
-ladder frame, axles and suspension;
-engine and gearbox;
-body and interior.
At least bodies and engines, but probably frames as well, seem to mixed and matched at an almost endless scale.

I do have a theory on how this practice grew. Historically China's car production has been very dispersed. Many small component factories supplying parts to a state-owned car manufacturer. These suppliers were often not under direct control of the car manufacturer, but under control of a local government. As a result they served the needs of the local government and ended up selling their products to anyone who wanted them, not just the car manufacturer.
This situation changed under the economic reforms of the 1980's and 1990's, when companies like FAW and Dongfeng started to acquire many of their suppliers and bring them under more direct control. The practice of sharing components however doesn't seem to have suffered.
Moreover, many small car manufacturers are also under local control and serve only a local or regional purpose. So there may be many manufacturers making similar products, but often they are not in direct competition with each other.

Does that make any sense?

Back to present times. I've been trying to find the origins of some vehicles, but it is very difficult. So let's walk through the three different main components.

There are several companies making similar engines, often based on some originally Japanese design. I think China's engine making is good enough for its own topic, so I'll disregard them here.

Now, I assume many car manufacturers will make at least their own frames, but I'm not sure at all. It's very hard to find anything about it. Does anyone have information about this?

This is where it gets interesting. There are probably five or six different bodies for, let's say, minivans on the market, but there are tens of companies producing these vehicles. I've been trying to figure out the origins of some the bodies, but again, it's really difficult. I know of companies like Fudi, that specialize in making generic bodies for anyone. But do they design and develop them? Is there any way to track the origins of a certain body type? I mean, there must be a mould and stamping press for sheet metal parts somewhere.

Looking at the industry, it feels somewhat like "open source auto making". You get a local metal shop to weld some frames, buy a body here, an engine there and you're a car manufacturer.

Is there anyone who shares an interest in these generic cars and more importantly, anyone with some insights on this topic?

13 Posts
very good list of chinese cars
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