Born in Jiangsu in 1964, Xu Liuping first studied chemical technology before being accepted at the Beijing Institute of Technology where he became an engineer.
In this capacity he joined armaments manufacturer China Ordnance Industry Corp in 1988 and rose to become the state-owned firm’s deputy director. Further promotions followed. By 2001 Xu was involved in the firm’s carmaking subsidiary Chang’an Automotive.
In 2006, Xu was appointed president of Chang’an Automotive, a move that shocked many, as he had been considered more of an R&D type than business leader. At this time he was just 42. Chang’an was selling 660,000 vehicles per year.
In his first five-year plan, Xu put overseas expansion and R&D at the heart of Chang’an’s strategy. He opened R&D facilities as far afield as Turin and Yokohama and built production lines in emerging markets such as Iran and Ukraine.
As reported in WiC39, Xu engineered one of 2009’s big M&A transactions. In November it was announced that Aviation Corp of China (AVIC) had exchanged its own carmaking businesses for a 23% equity stake in Chang’an Auto. This positioned Chang’an as the country’s third biggest car firm, with an annual output of 2.2 million vehicles. Xu’s goal is to raise that to five million units by 2020.
Xu received a doctorate in economics and management in 2002. “Without the basic business theory as a foundation, it will be much more difficult for me to manage a business well,” he comments.
Some in the Chinese car industry are prone to grandiose statements. But Xu is a lot more cautious in his public utterances: “China’s auto industry is big but not strong. I often think how can we catch up with foreign firms. It’s not like they are stupider than we Chinese. They have greater experience in the industry, and higher competence.”
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