Several trends in China have converged to boost the market for turbochargers. The first is well-known—the market is growing like gangbusters. Light vehicle sales in the first five months of 2010 rose by 53% compared to the same period in 2009, according to J.D. Power and Associates. Perhaps less well-known, government policy is also boosting demand for turbochargers in China. Aiming to support demand for small cars, which are both more affordable and less polluting, the government has reduced the purchase tax on vehicles with engine displacement of 1.6L and below.
That is one factor creating demand for turbochargers, as drivers seek to get better performance out of small engines, said one SEMA member.
“The market for turbochargers is growing in China,” said Joe Toubes, spokesman for Honeywell Transportation Systems. “You can get all the performance of a six-cylinder in a four-cylinder, with improved fuel efficiency and emissions reduction.”
SEMA members can learn more about this growing market at the SEMA-CIAPE Business Development Conference in Beijing in late September. Participating SEMA members will be paired with relevant Chinese buyers in up to a dozen private, pre-scheduled meetings. One-on-one meetings with potential Chinese partners at this ground-breaking event will allow you to get to know them and the market. Tuner shops in China are also benefiting from the growing demand for turbochargers. Jason Wang, owner of Handwin Racing in eastern China, says his shop's turbocharger installation business has been doubling every year.
“All car owners need turbo kits; it does not matter if their cars are expensive or not. The most important thing is they need more power, more speed,” he said.
Other shop owners agreed that the turbocharger business has great potential in China, but they need help learning how to install the turbochargers, including adjusting the engine control unit. That’s the kind of help SEMA members can provide.
“About 70% of the cars come back with some sort of problem,” said Gu Changzhi, manager of Tom Motor Worke tuner shop in the frigid northeast China city of Harbin. “We need better technicians with some knowledge of how to tune the ECU.”
Nonetheless, he is optimistic. “Turbochargers are a new thing,” said Gu. “Some of the car owners do not know much about it and still want to have it installed. We still feel turbochargers have a bright future in China. People have a need for this.”
Wang agreed that the skill of the technician was the key to growing the business. “The most important factor is your technician, their tuning ability, their service and their after-sale support service,” he said. “When the feedback is good, they bring in more clients and more business.”