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中国经济转型,美国汽车制造商前路艰难
China Shifts, and Detroit’s Big Bet Goes Sour

来源:纽约时报    2019-03-04 09:18



        CHONGQING, China — For Detroit, China once meant opportunity. The country’s growing ranks of drivers bought cars by the millions. Its cheap labor gave American automakers dreams of someday exporting their Chinese-made cars to the United States. The Big Three bet billions of dollars there.        中国重庆——对底特律来说,中国曾经意味着机遇。这个国家越来越多人加入驾车者行列,购入了数以百万计的汽车。它的廉价劳动力让美国汽车制造商梦想有一天能将中国制造的汽车出口到美国。三巨头在那里押下了数十亿美元赌注。
        Now China’s place in the world is shifting, and that bet is starting to sour.        如今,中国在世界上的地位正在改变,它们押注的前景也开始不妙起来。
        Chinese consumers are buying fewer cars as the country’s economy slows. Local competitors have raised their game. Many young people would rather use ride-sharing services similar to Uber than own vehicles themselves.        随着中国经济放缓,中国消费者的汽车购买量正在减少。本地竞争对手的水平在提升。许多年轻人宁愿使用类似优步的拼车服务,而不是自己买一辆车。
        And if the Trump administration’s trade hawks have their way, China won’t make many cars for Americans. As Washington and Beijing haggle over a deal to end their trade war, the hawks are defending tariffs, imposed by President Trump last year, that would make it expensive to sell Chinese-made cars — including those with American brands — in the United States.        如果特朗普政府的贸易鹰派独行其是,中国将不再会为美国生产很多汽车。当华盛顿和北京就一项结束贸易战的协议讨价还价之际,鹰派正在为特朗普总统去年征收的关税辩护,该关税使得中国制造的汽车——包括那些美国品牌的汽车——在美国的售价变得昂贵。
        China’s slowdown presents the most immediate problem. Some of Detroit’s Chinese factories have slowed to a crawl. In the inland metropolis of Chongqing, where Ford builds cars like the compact Focus, three big assembly plants have been running at less than one-fifth of capacity. Ford’s joint venture in Chongqing has quietly begun dismissing thousands of its 20,000 workers.        中国经济放缓构成了最紧迫的问题。底特律的一些中国工厂已经大幅放慢脚步。在内陆城市重庆,福特(Ford)生产紧凑型福克斯(Focus)等车型的地方,三家大型装配厂的运转还不足产能的五分之一。福特在重庆的合资企业已经开始悄然在其2万名员工中裁员数千人。
        Seven Zhou, a 32-year-old worker who assembled transmissions, lost his job last month. His paychecks had already shrunk by two-thirds because he was working fewer hours. He quit smoking to pay for food and rent, and the family is struggling to pay for the after-school English and math lessons his son needs for a chance at college.        装配变速器的32岁工人赛文·周(Seven Zhou)上个月失业了。由于工作时数减少,他的工资已经缩水了三分之二。为了支付伙食费和房租,他戒烟了。为了让儿子有上大学的机会,他的家庭正在努力积攒他的课后英语和数学辅导的费用。
        “I do not have much education,” Mr. Zhou said. “I had hoped my child would not be like me, the bottom level of labor.”        “我没受过多少教育,”赛文·周说。“我希望我的孩子不要像我一样,成为底层的劳工。”
        As China transforms, many global businesses are struggling to adapt. China’s economy has matured and can no longer match the sky-high growth rates of its go-go years. The Chinese government is trying to cope with all the debt accumulated to pay for that growth. Initiatives that could juice the economy have slowed.        随着中国的转型,许多全球企业都在艰难适应。中国经济已经成熟,无法再与繁荣年代那样的高速增长相媲美。中国政府正努力应对为经济增长而累积的所有债务,可能刺激经济的举措也已经放缓。
        The rest of the world has begun to fundamentally rethink its dependence on China to make much of what the world consumes. Some within the Trump administration see China as an existential threat to core American industries like autos, much as it has come to dominate production of solar panels, steel and aluminum.        世界其他地区已经在从根本上重新考虑对中国的依赖,即由中国来生产全球消费品的很大一部分。特朗普政府内部的一些人认为,中国对汽车等美国核心产业的生存构成威胁,就像它已经主导了太阳能电池板、钢铁和铝的生产一样。
        There have long been doubts among automakers and consumers about whether cars made in China could measure up to those produced in America. But with the gap in quality narrowing, companies in China and the United States have begun to explore the possibility.        长期以来,汽车制造商和消费者一直怀疑中国制造的汽车是否能达到美国生产的水平。但随着质量差距的缩小,中国和美国的企业已经在探索这种可能性。
        General Motors, which began exporting the Buick Envision from China to the United States in 2016, has been pleading since last summer without success for the Trump administration to exempt it from a 25 percent tariff imposed on Chinese-made cars. Ford announced in the summer of 2017 that it would move Focus production to China from Michigan, only to cancel those plans as the political landscape changed in the United States.        从2016年开始,通用汽车(General Motors)开始从中国向美国出口别克昂科威。自去年夏天以来,该公司一直在恳求特朗普政府不要把它放在对中国制造汽车征收25%关税的范围内,但没能成功。福特在2017年夏天的时候曾经宣布,要把福克斯的生产从密歇根州转移到中国,但随着美国政治形势的变化,它取消了这个计划。
        Exports from China to the United States of Detroit-brand cars are “a no-fly zone,” said Michael Dunne, the chief executive of ZoZo Go, an automotive consulting firm in San Diego. “It’s just too politically sensitive.”        圣地亚哥的汽车咨询公司ZoZo Go的首席执行官迈克尔·邓恩(Michael Dunne)说,从中国向美国出口底特律厂牌的汽车是“禁飞区”,“这在政治上太敏感了”。
        Detroit’s fortunes in China could still improve. A final trade deal could leave the door open to Chinese exports. The Chinese government could take steps to rev up domestic growth or empower its consumers to buy cars.        底特律在中国仍然有可能时转运来。最终的贸易协议有可能为中国出口打开大门。中国政府可以采取措施加快国内经济增长,或增加消费者的购车能力。
        “A stronger economy will lead to stronger auto sales,” said Irene Shen, a General Motors spokeswoman.        “经济好,汽车销量就好,”通用汽车发言人沈燕飞说。
        But for now, Detroit’s Big Three are struggling in China — particularly Ford.        但就目前而言,底特律的三大汽车制造商在中国举步维艰——尤其是福特。
        Business from Detroit has helped China become both the world’s largest maker and its largest buyer of cars. Much of the global auto parts industry has moved there as well, making it especially convenient to manufacture cars in China.        来自底特律的生意帮助中国成为全球最大的汽车制造商和最大的汽车买家。全球汽车零部件行业的大部分也搬到中国,因此在那里制造汽车特别方便。
        Drawn by the country’s rapid development and consumer revolution, G.M. invested about $10 billion. It now makes and sells more cars through its Chinese joint ventures than it does in the United States. Ford, which came later, invested as much as $5 billion.        在中国经济快速发展和消费革命的推动下,通用汽车投资了大约100亿美元。它在中国的合资企业生产和销售的汽车,数量上已经超过了美国。在它后面进入这个市场的福特,也投资了50亿美元。
        China’s car-building capacity is now roughly equal to those of North America and Europe combined. More car factories are being built to meet regulators’ demands for more electric cars.        中国目前的汽车生产能力大致相当于北美和欧洲之和。为了满足监管机构对更多电动汽车的需求,更多的汽车厂正在建设中。
        But a slowing economy and an end to tax breaks for car buyers have brought the industry back to earth. In January, car sales in China fell 18 percent from a year earlier. The average car factory in China, already operating at a little more than half capacity, has slowed even more amid the sales slump, according to LMC Automotive, a consulting firm.        但经济放缓和对购车税收减免政策的结束,汽车业重回现实。今年1月,中国的汽车销量同比下降18%。咨询公司LMC Automotive的数据显示,平均起来,中国的车厂都是在以略高于一半产能的状态下运转,但在销售低迷的情况下,它们还将进一步放缓。
        American brands are also being squeezed. The Chinese elite still prefer premium German brands like Mercedes, BMW and Audi. More frugal families buy cheaper Chinese and Japanese cars and are increasingly buying used.        美国厂牌也受到挤压。中国的精英阶层仍然更喜欢梅赛德斯、宝马和奥迪等高端德国品牌。越来越多的节俭家庭购买更便宜的中国和日本汽车,并且购买二手车的人也越来越多。
        The ride-hailing business has dealt automakers an unexpected blow. The global auto industry has worried for years that companies like Uber and Lyft could eat into demand, particularly among young customers. That appears to have happened in China, experts say, where dense urban cities have enhanced the appeal of Didi Chuxing, the Chinese ride-hailing giant. Didi now carries twice as many riders in China each year as Uber carries in the rest of the world combined.        网约车业务给汽车制造商带来了意想不到的打击。多年来,全球汽车业一直担心优步(Uber)和Lyft等公司可能会蚕食需求,尤其是年轻客户的需求。专家们表示,这种情况似乎已经发生在中国,在人口密集的城市,中国叫车巨头滴滴出行的吸引力增强了。在中国,滴滴现在每年的载客量是优步在世界其他地区载客量总和的两倍。
        “None of the multinational automakers foresaw how disruptive that would be to demand,” said Bill Russo, a former chief executive of Chrysler’s operations in China.        “没有一家跨国汽车制造商预见到这种需求能带来多大的破坏性,”克莱斯勒(Chrysler)中国业务前首席执行官罗威(Bill Russo)说。
        Young people in China are also more open to Chinese brands, thanks in part to their improved quality.        中国年轻人对中国品牌也更加开放,部分原因是这些品牌的质量有所提高。
        “They’re a lot more favorably disposed towards Chinese brands, and they have a pride in the Chinese brands,” said Nigel Harris, the president of Ford’s main joint venture in China, Changan Ford.        “他们对中国品牌的好感要高得多,他们为中国品牌而自豪,”福特在华主要合资企业长安福特总裁何骏杰(Nigel Harris)表示。
        This winter has been difficult for American brands in China. Sales of G.M.’s Chevrolet and Buick models have faltered (though Cadillacs continue to sell well), and Chrysler’s Jeeps face stiff competition from cheaper sport utility vehicles made by Chinese companies. After a dismal autumn, Ford sold 70 percent fewer cars in China in January than it did in the same month a year earlier.        今年冬天,美国品牌在中国的日子不太好过。通用的雪佛兰(Chevrolet)和别克(Buick)销量下降,尽管凯迪拉克(Cadillacs)依然卖得很好;克莱斯勒的吉普车也面临着来自中国企业生产的运动型多功能车的激烈竞争,后者价格更低。在经历了惨淡的秋天之后,今年一月,福特在中国的销量比去年同期下跌了70%。
        The automakers are tweaking their lineups to improve sales. G.M. and Ford are ramping up production of their respective Cadillac and Lincoln brands to tap the luxury market. G.M. has expanded its bargain Chinese brands, Baojun and Wuling. In a potentially risky move for its brand, Ford has put its blue oval logo on an inexpensive S.U.V., the Territory, that is mostly designed and built by a Chinese automaker, Jiangling Motors.        为提高销量,汽车制造商正在调整产品组合。通用汽车和福特正在各自加紧生产其凯迪拉克和林肯(Lincoln)品牌,以开拓豪华车市场。通用汽车扩大了其中国廉价品牌宝骏和五菱的生产。福特为一款名为领界(Territory)的廉价运动型多功能车打上了自己的蓝色椭圆标识,该品牌主要由中国汽车制造商江铃汽车设计和制造,这对福特来说是一个有风险的举措。
        It is too early to tell how well Ford’s move will go. But at a Ford dealership in Chongqing, the $16,000 Territory was selling briskly, while a number of Focus cars, priced at $22,000, have sat unsold since 2017.        现在判断福特此举效果还为时过早。但在重庆的一家福特经销商,价格10.7万人民币的领界销量很好,而许多售价14.7万人民币的福特福克斯自2017年以来一直未售出。
        “As soon as one arrives,” Li Pengfei, a salesman, said of the Territory, “someone picks it up.”        “来一批货就有人买,”销售员李鹏飞(音)说。 
        Nowhere are the problems of Detroit automakers more apparent than in Chongqing, an often foggy city built on steep slopes overlooking the confluence of two broad, muddy rivers, the Yangtze and the Jialing.        底特律汽车制造商们的问题在重庆最为明显。这座多雾的城市建在陡峭的山坡上,俯瞰长江和嘉陵江这两条宽阔泥泞的河流交汇之处。
        When a local hiring hall held an automotive-themed day last week, it was mobbed with former Ford employees who had accepted severance payments and were looking for their next jobs. The company has changed from running factories on up to three shifts, almost around the clock, to just a single shift.        上周,在一场以汽车行业为主题的招聘活动上,招聘大厅挤满了拿到遣散费、正在寻找下一份工作的前福特员工。这家公司的工厂已从几乎昼夜不停的三班倒变成了单班制。
        Mr. Harris declined to discuss layoffs in detail, saying, “Organizational fitness is a critical part of China cost, so we are working night and day to make sure that we are fit.”        何骏杰拒绝透露裁员细节,他说,“组织健康是中国成本的关键组成部分,所以我们日夜工作,确保我们是健康的。”
        In Chongqing, some workers do not see the industry ever recovering.        在重庆,一些工人认为这个行业永远不会再复苏了。
        Du Wen, a 28-year-old in a green hoodie and jeans who had assembled car doors for Ford’s joint venture partner, Changan, for the past four years, said that he was going to leave the auto industry entirely. So he was applying to work at a factory making instant soup, even though that would mean a sharp pay cut.        28岁的杜文(音)身穿绿色帽衫和牛仔裤,过去四年里一直在为福特的合资伙伴长安组装车门,他说他打算彻底离开汽车行业。所以他申请了一家速溶汤类食品工厂的工作,尽管薪水会大幅下降。
        “Everyone needs to eat,” he said, “even when the economy slows down.”        “就算经济不行了,所有人都得吃饭,”他说。
                
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