The Chinese economy is transitioning from high-speed growth to high-quality development. CIMC Vehicles, as a result, is seizing this opportunity to launch a third venture.
By adopting a new development philosophy, it continues to build its Light Tower manufacturing network and drive intensive growth through innovation and expanding its business scope. The OEM is also accelerating its exploration of new energy sources and removing barriers in the supply chain to achieve high-quality development.
David Li, CIMC Vehicles CEO and President, said that starting the third venture, in a sense, is a structure driven by dual wheels.
“On the one hand, it focuses on our existing businesses, firmly adhering to the theme of ‘structural reform of production organisations’,” he said. “We aim to make them stronger, better, more efficient and more globally extended. On the other hand, it explores prospects in the field of new energy.”
Specifically, CIMC Vehicles’ strategic initiatives are as follows: First is the ‘Star-chained Manufacturing Network’. Simply put, it is an upgraded version of the Light Tower plants, which connects all Light Tower production lines or Light Tower plants digitally. This constitutes the ‘Star-chained Manufacturing Network’, supporting the business philosophy of ‘Intercontinental Operation, Local Manufacturing’. The OEM is expediting the structural reform of its semi-trailer production organisation, focusing on building business groups, and striving to achieve the vision of high-quality industry integration, innovative distribution models and continuous improvements in market share and value.
Second, regarding the launch of the ‘North America Compass’ plan, the OEM aims to reshape the production organisation of North American chassis trailers and refrigerated semi-trailers, promote sales of intermodal transportation product portfolios and actively establish a new development pattern of sharing sales networks and channels in North America. This should result in steady market share growth and enable new growth opportunities in the European market.
Third, CIMC Vehicles is accelerating the growth of its Champion Tanker Business Group. Seizing the recovery opportunity in the heavy-duty truck market, the OEM has improved its order delivery. By enhancing the division of labour and collaboration among its LTP production centres, the business can improve production efficiency and establish additional business growth.
Fourth, the OEM is promoting the ‘Light Tower Manufacturing Network’ to support the plan to start a business for the third time. CIMC Vehicles has already built and invested in 24 Light Tower production lines worldwide, covering a full range of semi-trailers, various types of tankers, and truck bodies for specialty vehicles. Yet, the utilisation rate of these product lines has not been fully maximised according to Li. It limited their capabilities to support overseas and cross-regional operations flexibly. Since 2022, CIMC Vehicles has been preparing an upgraded version of the Light Tower plants, namely the ‘Light Tower Manufacturing Network’. In 2023, leveraging a national unified market, CIMC Vehicle will network and digitalise the Light Tower production lines of Champion Tanker Business Group, TB Business Group and the business group of semi-trailer in China.
Fifth, CIMC Vehicles is constructing a new management infrastructure for digitalisation to support the plan to start a business for the third time. The OEM will further optimise the ‘Accounting 2022’ process, focusing on improving the quality of overseas enterprise reports. It will iterate the ‘Money 2021’ process to build the CIMC Vehicles Group’s treasury system and explore the launch of an electronic settlement platform for related transactions. Also, the OEM will initiate the digital upgrade of the ‘Budget 2020’ process to establish a digital ‘data middle platform’. Moreover, CIMC Vehicles has iterated the ‘Performance 2020’ process to optimise the KPI management system further.
Sixth, the OEM is advancing ‘Organisational Development 2023’. By promoting the iteration and upgrade of its executive team, CIMC Vehicles aims to build an operational Leadership Triangle for intercontinental operation to start a business for the third time. This, in turn, will gradually upgrade the governance structure of the listed company and implement long-term incentive mechanisms.
“Regarding new energy, as the commercial vehicle industry accelerates its transition towards new energy and intelligence trends, CIMC Vehicles, in line with the trend of electrification and intelligence in the automotive industry, expedites innovation and exploration in the field of new energy,” said Li. “We focus on the R&D of new energy products, enhancing our leading advantages in lightweight, intelligence and adaptability. We define a new integrated product for integrated tractor-trailers and promote the standardisation and serialisation of various technological modules. Through strong cooperation with prime mover manufacturers, we accelerate the market penetration of new energy products.”
CIMC Vehicles will actively respond to market trends and will show great courage to tackle any challenge head-on, make the best efforts and demonstrate the entrepreneurial spirit of the third venture.
“On the premise of stabilising the basic market of ‘Intercontinental Operation’, the company will concentrate resources to strengthen the various businesses of the ‘national unified commercial vehicle and specialty vehicle market’ and wait for opportunities to enter the field of new energy commercial vehicles with innovative technology and business models, thereby contributing to the improvement of the efficiency of the road transportation industry,” said Li. “In advanced developed economies, CIMC Vehicles helps to achieve high quality and sustainable development, create value for shareholders and provide employees with good employment opportunities and a better life.”
In terms of new trailer designs and manufacturing processes, Li explained that ‘Innovation without limits’ has always been a core value of CIMC Vehicles and the philosophy for the company’s development.
“Over the past 20 years, we have consistently pursued innovation, increasing our investment in global, advanced technologies and introducing and incubating advanced research and development methods and manufacturing technologies,” said Li.
“These have enhanced our independent innovation capability and core competitiveness, making us the world’s leader in the sophisticated manufacturing of semi-trailers and specialty vehicles, a pioneer in the high-quality development of road transport equipment in China, and an explorer and innovator in new energy specialty vehicles in China.
“In the past year, CIMC Vehicles has achieved significant results in product development, manufacturing technology and essential technological innovation. For example, in product development, we have created over 10 lightweight alloy-steel liquid tank trailers, V-shaped dry bulk tank trailers, new energy mixers, electric intelligent dump trucks, hydrogen-powered refrigerated truck bodies and more. Regarding manufacturing technology innovation, we have conducted research and development in real-time X-ray imaging testing methods (DR testing), refrigerated truck beam bonding technology and the development of the first domestic 16.5-metre open foam press machine. Regarding basic technological research and development, we have developed the K2 new environmentally friendly foam technology and lightweight polyurethane foam materials.”
Li said the K2 new environmentally friendly foam technology from TB is a prime example of independent innovation.
“It combines CIMC Vehicles’ years of experience in refrigerated truck research and manufacturing, benchmarks advanced technologies from Europe and the United States and develops a new generation of K2 dual-mode foam technology,” he said. “The K2 new generation refrigerated compartment products have high strength, lightweight, uniform and dense foam, and are environmentally friendly and safe. They provide clients with a brand-new experience in refrigerated transportation. Our K2 dual-mode foam technology also received the 2022 Third Prize of CIMC Science and Technology Progress Award.”
As of the end of 2022, CIMC Vehicles had more than 1,400 registered patents, and participated in the formulation and revision of 30 national and industry standards for semi-trailers and truck bodies for specialty vehicles in China.
In 2022, CIMC Vehicles as a group sold 151,870 units of various vehicle types. Li said the company is mainly engaged in the global production and sale of semi-trailers, truck bodies and specialty vehicles and van bodies.
“We are also the world leader in the sophisticated manufacturing of semi-trailers and specialty vehicles, a pioneer in the high-quality development of road transport equipment in China, and an explorer and innovator in new energy specialty vehicles in China,” he said. “The company has held the top position as the world’s leading semi-trailer manufacturer for 10 consecutive years. In 2022, the company occupied a market share of 14.45 per cent in China’s semi-trailer market, maintaining the first position for four consecutive years. The company currently has six major businesses or groups, namely ‘Light Tower Pioneer Business’, ‘North American Business’ and ‘European Business’ engaged in the global semi-trailer market, ‘Champion Tanker Business Group’ with a focus on sophisticated manufacturing of truck bodies for specialty vehicles and van truck bodies, ‘TB Business Group – Dump Truck Business’ and ‘TB Business Group – Urban Distribution Van Truck Bodies Business’, covering four major markets in the world, more than 40 countries and regions, and had 24 Light Tower Plants at home and abroad.”
In 2022, CIMC Vehicles produced a total of 159,699 units/sets and sold a total of 151,870 units/sets. The business had to expand its capacity to produce a total of 297,750 units/sets in 2022.
On 28 March 2023, CIMC Vehicles held its 2022 Annual Results Presentation at its headquarters in Shenzhen, attracting investment institutions and authoritative media. The development of CIMC Vehicles has received great attention.
In 2022, CIMC Vehicles successfully moved forward amid the headwinds, with overseas businesses making significant progress and domestic business maintaining a solid foundation, outperforming the overall market.
Financial highlight: In 2022, CIMC Vehicles recorded a revenue of 23,621 million RMB. The net profit attributable to shareholders of the company was 1,118 million RMB, representing a year-on-year significant increase of 24.11 per cent. Total assets and net assets reached 22.217 billion RMB and 13.36 billion RMB, respectively. Total assets amounted to 22,217 million RMB and the net assets reached 13,360 million RMB. CIMC Vehicles sold a total of 151,870 units of various types of vehicles worldwide.
Operational highlights: The company made a breakthrough in operation, with the coordinated development of the six major businesses or groups. CIMC Vehicles’ Light Tower Pioneer Business promoted the structural reform of semi-trailer production organisations and increased the gross profit margin. North American Business made a breakthrough, with an increase in the sales and price of main products, and profit hitting a record high. European Business was successfully transformed, and put into operation several LoM manufacturing plants, thus achieving quality growth in revenue.
Champion Tanker Business Group accelerated the integration of products and production capacity and promoted the development of a unified national market of tankers. TB Business Group – Dump Truck Business actively deepened the strategy of joint development with tractor manufacturers, grasped the trend of the new energy transition; TB Business Group – Urban Distribution Van Truck Bodies Business improved its production capacity arrangements, put into operation Jiangmen LTP Production Center and vigorously developed products in new energy.
During the annual results presentation, CIMC Vehicles officially announced that it started a business for the third time to promote high-quality development. In the future, the company will intensify its exploration and innovation in new energy, creating a new performance growth driver.
Following a boost in revenue for international business thanks to the Light Tower Manufacturing Network strategy, CIMC Vehicles has a plan to move forward and bank on its success.
“Since 2014, the company has been constructing a ‘Sophisticated Manufacturing System’ and establishing ‘Light Tower’ plants,” said Li. “Currently, we have built 24 Light Tower plants at home and abroad. Compared to traditional plants, these Light Tower plants have revolutionised the industry by replacing conventional processes with laser cutting, robotic welding, electrophoresis and powder coating. This substitution addresses the industry pain points of high pollution and high energy consumption associated with traditional plants. It reduces pollutant emissions and energy consumption during the production process while enhancing raw material and capacity utilisation.”
Moving forward, CIMC Vehicles will deepen the construction of the ‘Light Tower Manufacturing Network’; actively made arrangements for the LTP production centre and the LoM manufacturing plant; promoted the digital upgrade of the LTL ‘Light Tower’ logistics, LTS ‘Light Tower’ sourcing centre and LoP local procurement; utilised high-end manufacturing production lines and capacity; achieved mutual complementation of superior resources and efficient synergy; enabled industrial upgrading through digitalisation; reduced the production costs; realised comprehensive production automation, implementing intelligent and digital processes; increased orders and improved the fulfilment; effectively combined the six major businesses or groups in the long run, so as to guarantee high-quality development.
Looking at the North American market, this business segment demonstrated impressive performance throughout 2022 and Q1 2023.
“In 2022, the revenue from North American Business gained a significant increase compared to the previous year,” said Li. “In the first quarter of 2023, North American Business grew with increased revenue and gross profit margin. As the impact of the pandemic in North America gradually diminishes and the shortages of raw materials and labor alleviate, the transportation market will be supported by the growing consumer demand and delivery volume. This will maintain a strong demand for semi-trailer equipment, with the emergence of the trend towards new energy.”
On 24 April 2023, as a core supplier, Vanguard, CIMC Vehicles’s North American subsidiary, provided Sysco with a comprehensive solution for new energy refrigerated semi-trailers. In this project, Vanguard delivered the first batch of multi-temperature refrigerated semi-trailer prototypes to Sysco at its Moreno Valley, California factory. In the future, CIMC Vehicles will actively expand its presence in the North American new energy logistics equipment market and provide more environmentally friendly and efficient logistics solutions through technological innovation.
“Looking ahead, North American Business will solidify its operational performance by implementing organised changes and adjustments in the production organisation,” said Li. “We will establish efficient collaborative mechanisms and processes, leveraging core resources in the LTL ‘Light Tower’ distribution network and LoM manufacturing plants. We will optimise the LoM manufacturing plants to enhance production efficiency and reduce manufacturing costs. Additionally, North American Business will actively promote business expansion in the local market, maintaining the trend of breakthroughs and achieving steady growth in market share. This will help us build a new development landscape that includes sharing sales networks and channels.”
As for the challenges of the energy and supply chain crises in Europe, CIMC Vehicles has been working hard on that front.
“In 2023, geopolitical conflicts and energy crises continue to impact the economic recovery in Europe,” said Li. “Energy shortages persist, restraining the European market’s production capacity and posing declining consumption risks. The supply chain situation remains tense, and the challenges in the European semi-trailer market persist. However, semi-trailer manufacturing companies with a stable supply chain guarantee system will gain a competitive advantage.
“We are actively tackling these challenges in European Business. We have completed the construction of LoM manufacturing plants in Southampton and Mansfield in the UK, and Pijnacker in the Netherlands, which helped fully release the production capacity. SDC optimised the manufacturing process and value stream, established the LTS production centre for Light Tower parts, and carried out re-planning and re-arrangements for products and production lines, thus greatly improving production efficiency.
“Meanwhile, the company promoted the improvement in corporate governance of SDC and successfully transformed SDC, with profits hitting a five-year high. LAG actively explored new energy products and controlled the risk of supply chain shortage. European Business will actively explore new products and business opportunities in the future, embracing a new development landscape that offers growth opportunities.”
Another key focus for CIMC Vehicles is its partnership with TB Business Group to produce final mile vehicles and support China’s cold chain network.
“CIMC Vehicles has continuously focused on the cold chain logistics landscape, from the ‘first mile’ from the origin to the ‘last mile’ in the city,” said Li. “In 2021, CIMC Vehicles made a significant move by launching the ‘Terabyte’ brand, dedicated to manufacturing and selling refrigerated and dry van bodies. It has introduced mobile refrigeration equipment with five significant advantages: mobility, scalability, high quality, aesthetic design, and rapid deployment.”
The Terabyte products, according to Li, are mainly used for urban fresh food distribution and urban logistics delivery.
“They are a vital initiative for CIMC Vehicles to adapt to the latest national regulations and changes in the industry and to promote the transformation and upgrade of urban logistics delivery through a Sophisticated Manufacturing System,” said Li.
“By introducing North American technology of refrigerated van truck bodies and European technology of dry van truck bodies, TB Business Group has continuously absorbed and innovated, establishing Light Tower production lines of internationally advanced refrigerated van truck bodies and highly automated dry van truck bodies.
“Among them, CIMC Vehicles’ refrigerated van truck bodies, shared refrigerated vehicles, and mobile refrigeration equipment will focus on the ‘6+1’ key categories, namely main fresh food including meat, fruits, vegetables, seafood, dairy products, and frozen foods, as well as pharmaceutical product which is vaccines. They will address the storage and logistics transportation of refrigerated and frozen goods from the source origin to the hub transit locations, filling the gaps in cold chain warehousing and logistics hardware equipment in the first mile from the origin and the last mile in the city, thereby closely aligning with the overall requirements of China’s ‘14th Five-Year Plan’ for the cold chain logistics development.
CIMC Vehicles adheres to the business philosophy of ‘Intercontinental Operation, Local Manufacturing’ and has a business presence covering four major markets in the world, more than 40 countries and regions.
“It is worth mentioning that the company actively focuses on market opportunities in Southeast Asia, Africa, and the Middle East. It promotes the construction of LoM manufacturing plants to build a sustainable competitive operation system in overseas emerging markets. In 2023, economic activities in emerging markets gradually return to normal, and domestic and overseas demands will continue to recover, which will contribute to sustained economic growth. With the continuous promotion of the “Belt and Road Initiative”, emerging markets were the most urgent demands in global development and there are incremental opportunities to be tapped in emerging markets.
“The company actively built branches of LoM manufacturing plants in overseas emerging markets, and successively built LoM manufacturing plants in key market areas such as Southeast Asia, to improve product assembly efficiency and product quality, thus realising the long-distance delivery from LTP production centres.”
CIMC Vehicles is also invested in electrification and hydrogen trends.
“The company aligns with the significant trends of electrification and intelligence in the automotive industry, promoting the high-quality development of the road transportation equipment industry towards low emissions,” said Li.
“Regarding the innovation of new energy products, the company advances in-depth joint research and development with tractor manufacturers, and has a leading edge in terms of lightweight road transport, intelligent design and adaptability.
“With respect to semi-trailers, the company has initiated a forward-looking plan to start a business for the third time and is making substantial progress in the research and development of new energy semi-trailers. The exploration of new energy for refrigerated trucks in North America is in a key stage. The built-in axle generator and battery pack are used to supply power to the refrigerator, so as to reduce the vehicle weight and achieve long endurance mileage. CIMC Vehicles has started the development and testing of the second-generation prototypes.
“In terms of specialty vehicles, the company launched pure electric mining trucks with long endurance mileage and developed various new energy concrete mixer truck products with battery charging and swapping, to greatly reduce the self-weights of the vehicles and improve the economy of use by clients. In terms of urban distribution trailers and refrigerated vans, CIMC Vehicles actively cooperates with tractor manufacturers to develop new energy refrigerated truck products, with the TB KG hydrogen-energy refrigerated trucks winning the honour of the ‘No.1 Hydrogen-energy Refrigerated Truck in 2022’.”
As for asset tracking, CIMC Vehicles has established a platform for monitoring new energy and China VI-compliant enterprises. It can monitor the vehicle status in a real-time manner, form a closed loop of data and provide a basis for fault diagnosis and aftersales.
“The company has also developed a set of intelligent monitoring systems, which allow the monitoring of the temperature, humidity and cargo status in the van body through personal computers or mobile phones, thus comprehensively meeting the needs of users in various scenarios,” said Li. “For industrial synergy, the company participates in the investment in and integration of the upstream and downstream industrial chains of new energy heavy trucks, and actively improves the synergy in production, design, mass production and delivery of new energy products, so as to promote the innovation and transformation of the next-generation new energy heavy trucks.”