Magna says suppliers in China need to focus on the fundamentals of business, and not be too swayed by technology, as component manufacturers face the ‘new normal’ of a market slowdown, a major industry player said this week.

“We are in business to make money,” Asia Magna EVP, Frank O’Brien, told just-auto at the Global Automotive Forum in Chongqing.

“A lot of technology is quite Hollywood – it attracts huge attention but distracts from the fundamentals of a business. 

“We all need to concentrate – on the one hand managing the business and, on the other, investing in what is new technology. 

“People have short memories. General Motors went bankrupt not because of issues, because of technology, innovation, it went bankrupt because the market almost came to a stop.”

The rise of new electric vehicles (NEVs) in China proved a popular theme at the Global Automotive Forum, reflecting their predicted growth from around 300,000 sales last year to 1m by 2020, with Magna revealing it had been approached by 18 different companies on the subject. 

“The challenge we are facing now is the 18 NEVs approaching us,” added O’Brien. “Only four have their vehicles developed and designed, but they all want to get into the automotive business.

“They are all Chinese and they are all non-automotive.”

“There is no room for 18 new players in the Chinese market. Which of the 18 do we decide to work with? They won’t be able to produce any vehicles for at least four years.

“Within all of that, which of the models they are introducing in the market are actually going to reach the levels to let you make a profit?”

O’Brien noted, by the end of 2016, Magna would have more plants in Chongqing than anywhere else in China and the supplier was seeking new partners with domestic players who could bring local contacts to the business.