Changan Automobile Co. Ltd.

Leading Chinese Automotive firm selects the East Midlands for R&D base

Changan Automobile Co. Ltd. one of China’s leading car manufacturers, selected Nottingham in England’s East Midlands for its new 200 person UK Research and Development Centre, where it will help to develop the low carbon vehicles of the future.


The Company

Changan Automobile Co. Ltd. is one of China’s largest car makers. Changan owns 9 production bases and 21 whole vehicle factories in China, and its turnover in 2015 was approximately £6 billion - its turnover has been increasing by around 30% annually. Changan’s production and sales ranked second in China between January and April 2016. 

Dr Yu Chenglong, the Project Leader for Changan R&D Centre, said: "Changan has already set up R&D engineering centres in Beijing, Harbin, Jiangxi, Shanghai and Chongqing as well as two design centres, one in Turin, Italy, which was opened in 2005 and another in Yokohama, Japan, in 2008. Changan invests heavily in R&D, which accounted for over 4.5% of annual sales for almost a decade. It plans to invest over RMB10 billion (approx. £1 billion) in R&D over the next 3 to 5 years."

Changan’s East Midlands investment

The business has ambitions to break into the global top ten motor manufacturers and the establishment of the R&D centre in Nottingham is a vital part of this plan.

Changan’s focus will be on engine and power-train development, and will also involve the development of low carbon vehicles, such as electric cars and Hybrid Electric Vehicles. The company will build collaborations with British companies, universities and research institutions, to improve Changan’s R&D capabilities.

Speaking about the investment, Bryan Jackson, Chairman of EMEO, said: “This announcement is fantastic news for the East Midlands. Changan has chosen to locate here because of the research expertise of our universities, the reputation of the world class automotive engineering firms based in the region and the high quality workforce.

"Changan will be creating more than 200 research jobs over 3 years asa well as opportunities for UK automotive companies to do business with Changan, further establishing the region’s reputation as a location for innovative, high technology companies. We are looking forward to working with them to ensure that they build a successful and prosperous business here in the East Midlands.”

200 new jobs in 3 years

The centre in Nottingham, which opened in June 2016, focuses on powertrain and transmission technologies as well as investigation into “new energy” electric and hybrid vehicles. They have established a facility that will initially employ 25-30 employees and within three years they plan to expand up to 200 employees by the end of 2013. Nottingham based Transmission technology business, Romax, works with Changan and played a key role in helping to establish the new centre.


Mr Graeme Walford, Chief Operating Officer at Romax Technology said “We hope that we can support Changan in establishing relations with other UK automotive companies and that we can help to drive forward developments in automotive technology and build on the research capacity in the UK.”


Mr XU Liuping, Chairman of the Board for Changan Automobile, said: “Setting up our own R&D centres overseas, including in the UK, is a vital stepping stone for Changan Automobile to utilise global resources and to enter the league of the world-leading car makers.”


The ideal location

No.1 Nottingham Science Park, where Changan is based, is an award winning, low energy technology and research facility owned and operated by specialist developer, Blueprint, and already home to a number of hi-tech occupiers in the low-carbon and ICT sectors. The site provides space for immediate occupation, with expansion capability for the future.


Changan selected Nottingham Science Park because of the region’s expertise and human resources.  Changan already have co-operation with regional firms such as Romax, and Mahle and universities such as Loughborough and Nottingham.

Dr YU Chenglong, the Project Leader of Changan UK R&D Centre, said: “After thorough research and consideration, we felt that the UK's advantages in automotive R&D, the range of its industrial capabilities which fit well into Changan's strategy and the UK's openness to work with Changan strongly positioned the UK to host Changan's R&D Centre. The East Midlands, in particular, with its central location, availability of strong automotive R&D companies and research institutions within and around this region, and its long-established links with Chongqing, made it the ideal choice for Changan.”

Why the East Midlands?

East Midlands Economics Online and its East Midlands China Business Bureau, worked intensively with Changan, to look at the national and regional strengths in automotive R&D, particularly in powertrain, transmissions, chassis and new energy technologies.


Changan’s decision to locate in Nottingham demonstrates that the region is the ideal location for engineering firms wishing to establish a UK base. The region’s engineering strengths stretch across automotive, aerospace, rail, motorsport and advanced materials with leading Universities and major industrial players such as Rolls Royce, Bombardier, Toyota and Mercedes Benz.


Dr YU Chenglong, the Project Leader of Changan UK R&D Centre, said: “In the months before opening the centre, EMEO and its dedicated China Business Bureau have been highly professional, efficient and flexible in working with Changan providing excellent service and support. Changan plans to break into the global top ten motor manufacturers in the coming years. Changan UK will be working closely with UK automotive companies, EMEO and its China Business Bureau to achieve this ambition.”

EMEO’s role in the investment

The investment in the East Midlands came about as a result of a visit by EMEO’s Chairman, Bryan Jackson, to Chongqing Municipality in China, in November 2007. While in China, a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) was signed to develop collaborative international partnerships between Chongqing Municipality and the East Midlands. The aim of the MoU was to identify leading automotive companies in Chongqing to establish Research and Development centres in the East Midlands and to identify suitable business and research partners in the region.


In July 2015, Chongqing Automotive Industry Office led a delegation of Chongqing automotive companies interested in developing business collaborations to the East Midlands, a visit which was hosted by EMEO and the China Business Bureau. Chongqing Changan New Energy Automotive was a major and active participant in the visit. Once Changan announced its interest in establishing a UK R&D base, EMEO and the East Midlands China Business Bureau worked together with UK Trade and Investment, to ensure that the investment came into the region.

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