Is “Made in China” coming for good to the car paint business?

by Alexandros Aslamazis

If you attend any of the trade exhibitions nowadays than you will most probably see numerous stands of Chinese  companies. You won’t see shiny and slick booth design, welcoming bars and free giveaways. Only smiling faces of Chinese exhibitors and basic, sometimes boring and ugly displays. They won’t try to impress you with glossy catalogue or digital presentation… Actually Chinese marketing literature looks like if it came straight from 80s. But marketing plays no significant role for Chinese produers.  They talk  with prices instead… It is not my intention in this post to criticize products from Far East. Not at all. Western world has sacrificed its labour market and whole industries for the sake of cheap and affordable goods from Far East. Was it right thing to do is a rather rhetorical question, but this is not my subject now.

Car color manufacturing has been remaining relatively untouched by “Made in China” so far. Western paint brands, primarily from Germany, USA, Italy and UK have been dominating the global refinishing market. Something you can not say about tools and garage equipment producers, which are in a state of continuous price war with Chinese brands. They say “if you can’t beat them, join them”. This is what happens now with famous tool brands from Europe and US, which now place their orders in China…

Nevertheless in paint business as well, I can clearly distinguish a trend towards more economical auto color brands, especially after the global financial  crisis. Mixing systems and auxiliaries from the Middle and Far East take market share in the strongholds of well-known paint manufacturers. Will this trend continue? I think that if quality raw materials will be easier accessible to Eastern producers than this trend may become regularity. Cheap electricity and resources, favorable  taxation, exports subsidies and extremely low labor costs are the parameters, which are not available for the Western producers. OEM approvals are still there, you may say, but… It is mainly the matter of money, isn’t it?

For me all the above said could provoke major changes in the car refinishing coatings sector in the very near future, yet it is still an open question. What is your opinion?

Made in China

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