A technical center has opened in suburban Detroit to conduct chassis R&D for Chongqing Changan Automobile Co.’s own brands in China. Initially, this $30 million R&D center will have 30 employees. In the next two to five years, its workforce will increase to 200 workers.
Gang Feng, deputy general manager of the new facility, said that Changan will team up with North American parts suppliers for the development of suspension components, brakes, chassis and power steering.
Feng said that this marks its first step to fix the “weak link” in its technology, which is the chassis. Changan has a three-way joint venture with Ford Motor Co. and Mazda Motor Corp., aside from being in partnership with PSA Peugeot Citroen.
In several cases, Changan will be working with suppliers that have already started operating factories in China. Feng said that the proximity of the technical center to these suppliers in Michigan will speed up R&D. He clarified that the purpose of the technical center is not to ease Changan into the U.S. market.
Changan has a design center in Turin, Italy. And in the United Kingdom, it has a technical center that develops powertrains. The company invests a lot to upgrade its vehicle technology.
Last December, Changan revealed plans to increase $607 million to develop small engines, expand minivan production and conduct R&D for its own brands.
Headquartered in the southwest China city of Chongqing, Changan is China's third largest domestic automaker. In 2010, it sold 2.4 million cars and commercial vehicles, 70% of which were its own brands.