With Detroit a shadow of its former self and Japanese automakers sidelined by that country's recent disasters, Chinese car companies are racing to produce a global champion capable of competing with Western brands.
It's something that's long been talked about and something that Nissan Motor Co. (PINK: NSANY) Chief Executive Carlos Ghosn says could happen in just five short years.
"The Chinese government says this is a huge industry. We want to have a Chinese champion," Ghosn told Reuters. "It's logical. It's normal. We were expecting this."
Ghosn anticipates such an emergence will take about five years, but could happen even sooner if one of the major Chinese car companies acquires a mass-market auto brand from a foreign rival.
So who will this Chinese auto champion be?
A short-list of serious contenders includes:
- SAIC Motor Co. Ltd.
- Geely Automotive Holdings Ltd. (PINK: GELYF)
- Dongfeng Motor Group Co. Ltd. (PINK: DNFGF)
- BYD Co. Ltd (PINK: BYDDY, BYDDF)
- Chang'an Automobile Co. Ltd.
SAIC, and Chang'an are state-owned, which makes them difficult to invest in. But Geely, Dongfeng, and BYD are open to U.S. investors, with the latter backed by Warren Buffett. At the very least, these Chinese car companies stand to profit handsomely as China takes its place as the automotive capital of the world.