Multiple sources have reported today that Beijing Automotive Holding Company, known commonly as simply Beijing Auto, has joined the pool of companies considering a purchase of Volvo Cars from FoMoCo. It is the second Chinese-owned company, following Geely, to show interest in taking over operations in Gothenburg. If the name sounds familiar, it's because Beijing Auto was one of the companies courting GM for control of the Opel brand in Germany. Obviously, that did not come to fruition and Magna purchased GM's troubled European asset.
Beijing Auto's management team is said to be visiting Gothenburg this week, perhaps as early as today, to tour facilities and review the company's books. However, there's been a fair amount of concern about whether Beijing Auto, or any Chinese company for that matter, is fit to run a major worldwide car company. Said Zhang Xin, a securities analyst in Beijing, "For Chinese automakers, buying a brand may be easy but it's more difficult to develop it afterwards. Beijing Auto and other Chinese automakers don't have the capability to manage it or to do research and development on products."
From what we've gathered, it seems that Beijing Auto may simply be trying to get an inside look at a few long-running, successful companies in Europe while it has the chance, using what it learns to advance its own business. Think of it as window shopping at Best Buy, then going home to build a television yourself. But who knows, this could be a serious buyer. Still, most analysts see Geely as a more likely candidate for the purchase. That's partly due to the fact that Beijing Auto doesn't actually build any of its own cars, but instead has contracts with Jeep and Hyundai build vehicles designed by those companies in China, for the domestic market there. Having a joint venture and actually producing unique cars are two different things, which will likely be a concern for Volvo and Ford management, along with the Swedish government. Only time will tell what will happen to Volvo, but Swedespeed is betting against Beijing Auto. Still, with the Hummer brand likely being sold off to a Chinese heavy equipment manufacturer, anything is possible.