Chana Auto, one of China's biggest carmakers, plans to invest $80m in South Africa over the next five years. The investment would culminate with the construction of a new assembly plant, which would be the country's first green-field car plant in 40 years.
Yang Qing, general manager of Chana International, told local newspaper Business Report that the investment would take place in three phases, with the construction of a new plant, whose location has not been decided, being the final stage. The investment is expected to create 1,000 jobs.
Initially, though, Chana's activities will focus on boosting sales of imported Chana vehicles in the South African market. To date, about 5,000 Chana vehicles have been sold in South Africa, which is the biggest and most mature automotive market in Africa.
Meanwhile, Geely Automobile, another of China's Big Five, is engaged in a similar expeditionary mission in Algeria. It has just awarded the PR deal to develop its brand in Algeria to Open2Europe, a pan-European hi-tech PR firm headquartered in Paris.
Open2Europe will accompany Geely in developing its brand in Algeria, which is seen as a strategic market by the Chinese carmaker. The campaign will start with the launch of the new Geely Panda.
Geely apparently chose Open2Europe because of its previous success with Chinese companies, and its expertise in increasing visibility in the European, American and Arabian media.
Car industry analysts have long argued that when China's carmakers start flexing their expansionist muscles, they would most likely start with developing economies of Africa, Asia and eastern Europe, rather than compete head on with the established western and Asian carmakers giants in mature markets.
So while Europe's media have been salivating over the potential implications of a Chinese-owned Opel — Beijing Automotive Industry Holding tabled an eleventh-hour offer for the German carmaker — China's increasingly aggressive moves in smaller markets risk going unnoticed.