(Yicai Global) Nov. 24 -- Audi AG dealers in China are against a partnership between the German luxury carmaker and SAIC Motor Corp., China's biggest auto manufacturer, after the two signed a framework agreement earlier this month that could lead to SAIC making and selling Audi models.
Representatives from 15 dealer groups held talks with top Audi executives in Foshan in the southern Chinese province of Guangdong, asking the Ingolstadt-based company to give a satisfactory response before Dec. 1 or they will stop placing orders, according to the China Automobile Dealers Association. The talks didn't go well, and almost ended in a fight, insiders said.
Reports on the opaque cooperation deal give conflicting views. Some suggest the partners will set up a joint venture, while others claim they will follow the SAIC-Skoda model with SAIC Volkswagen an original equipment manufacturer for Audi before the two eventually form a 50-50 joint venture. During this year's Guangzhou Motor Show, Volkswagen China CEO Jochem Heizmann said cooperation between Audi and SAIC would have no impact on FAW-VW Audi Automobile Co.
A Shanghai-based Audi dealer said he thought the partnership between SAIC and Audi would go ahead despite resistance. A final settlement may involve some form of financial support for dealers.
Executives at the talks on Nov. 21 included Dietmar Voggenreiter, marketing and sales director, Joachim Wedler, Audi China's general manager, and Michael-Julius Renz, general manager of FAW-VW Audi's sales division.
Insiders said the tangled joint-venture relationship between FAW Group Corp., Volkswagen and Audi, in which each company has 60, 30 and 10 percent shares respectively forced Audi to look for new initiatives and partners, especially after its failed attempt to raise its shareholding to 19 percent. Insiders also predict that Audi and SAIC Volkswagen are likely to produce sports utility vehicles and customized cars, with the first expected next April.