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Five European automotive brands now owned by Chinese companies

Jan 10, 2024Jan 10, 2024

Do you think that, when it comes to cars, the Chinese are coming? Well, think again, because they are already here - here are five European car and car-related brands you can buy in New Zealand right now that are owned by Chinese companies.


Probably the one most people know about, Ford sold Volvo to privately held Chinese company Geely in 2010 when it was busy bailing out of all of its non-Ford brands.

Geely has been extremely careful with Volvo, keeping production open in Sweden, while also continuing with its Belgian and Malaysian (yep, since 1967, in fact!) production facilities. It has, of course, expanded production since the takeover, opening manufacturing facilities in China, India and the United States.

Geely also recently spun off Volvo's Polestar performance subsidiary as a separate brand dedicated to high performance electric vehicles.


MG very nearly became a victim of the whole messy, drawn-out death of the UK car industry, but was "saved" by BMW when it bought the Rover Group in 1994, only to be sold on to the dodgy Phoenix Consortium in 2000.

It was saved again in 2005 by the Nanjing Automobile Group that also wanted Rover, but Ford bought the name to protect Land Rover, that it still owned at the time, but has since sold to Indian giant Tata.

After a brief and thoroughly ill-advised period where MG stood for "Modern Gentleman", a merger with Chinese state-owned SAIC Motor saw sanity prevail and "Morris Garages" was restored.


SAIC is also home to another refugee from the Rover Group/British Leyland - LDV, otherwise known as Leyland DAF Vans.

Actually SAIC only bought the intellectual property rights (names, designs, etc) for LDV after no one else was interested following a long, slow decline that was punctucated by mergers, management buyouts and eventual collapse.

SAIC restarted production of LDV vans in China in 2011, selling them locally under Maxus brand (which was an LDV model), while exporting them globally as LDVs, something that kiwis will no-doubt be rather familiar with, given the brands strong sales locally.


Yeah, that's right - Lotus is owned by the Chinese.

Well, to be more specific since 2017 it is 51 per cent owned by Geely, with the remaining 49 per cent owned by Etika Automotive, a Malaysian truck body and trailer builder.

This came after several years under Malaysian ownership under DRB-HICOM, by way of its Proton subsidiary. Before that it was in the hands of Italian madman Romano Artioli - who also did his best to destroy Bugatti - who had purchased it from General Motors.

Geely also owns the company's engineering consultancy firm Lotus Engineering, which has facilities in the UK, USA, China and Malaysia.


Not a car manufacturer, but certainly a revered and admired name in the whole European motoring world, legendary Italian tyre manufacturer Pirelli is currently majority owned (45.5 per cent) by Chinese state-owned chemical company ChemChina.

​ChemChina paid NZ$11.7 billion for its shares in 2015, which is actually pocket change for the company - two years later it bought Swiss seed and pesticides group Sygenta for NZ$72 billion and the same year a merger between another Chinese state-owned chemical company, Sinochem, was proposed that would see the two be valued at a colossal NZ$175 billion dollars!

Volvo MG LDV Lotus Pirelli