China Automotive Systems, Inc. was incorporated in the State of Delaware on June 29, 1999 under the name Visions-In-Glass, Inc.
On or around March 5, 2003, the Company acquired all of the issued and outstanding equity interests of Great Genesis Holdings Limited, “Genesis”, a corporation organized under the laws of the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region, China, by issuance of 20,914,250 shares of common stock to certain sellers. After the acquisition, the Company continued the operations of Genesis. Presently, Genesis owns interests in eight Sino-joint ventures, which manufacture power steering systems and/or related products for different segments of the automobile industry in China.
On May 19, 2003, the Company changed its name from Visions-In-Glass, Inc. to China Automotive Systems, Inc.
Since September 5, 2007, Hanlin Chen, Qizhou Wu, Robert Tung, Haimian Cai, and William E. Thomson began serving their terms as members of the Company’s Board of Directors. The directors appointed Hanlin Chen as the chairman of the Board, Qizhou Wu as the Chief Executive Officer of the Board of Directors, and Jie Li as Chief Financial Officer.
Unless the context indicates otherwise, the Company uses the terms “the Company”, “we”, “our” and “us” to refer to Genesis and China Automotive collectively on a consolidated basis. The Company is a holding company and has no significant business operations or assets other than its interest in Genesis. Through Genesis, the Company manufactures power steering systems and other component parts for automobiles. All operations are conducted through eight Sino-foreign joint ventures in China and a wholly-owned subsidiary in the U.S. set forth below is an organizational chart as at December 31, 2008.
Jiulong was established in 1993 and mainly engaged in the production of integral power steering gear for heavy-duty vehicles. Henglong was established in 1997 and mainly engaged in the production of rack and pinion power steering gear for cars and light duty vehicles.
On March 31, 2008, the Company’s wholly-owned subsidiary, Genesis, and Wiselink Holdings Limited, “Wiselink”, both controlled by Hanlin Chen and his family, entered into an equity transfer agreement, the “Henglong Agreement”, pursuant to which Wiselink agreed to transfer and assign its 35.5% equity interest in Henglong, one of the Company’s currently consolidated subsidiaries, to Genesis for a total consideration of $32,090,000. The Company now holds an 80% equity interest in Jingzhou Henglong.
Under the terms of the Henglong Agreement, Genesis is deemed to be the owner of Jingzhou Henglong commencing from January 1, 2008. The Henglong acquisition is considered as a business combination of companies under common control and is being accounted for in a manner of pooling of interests.
Shenyang was established in 2002 and focuses on power steering parts for light duty vehicles.
Zhejiang was established in 2002 to focus on power steering pumps.
USAI was established in 2005 and mainly engaged in the production and sales of sensor modulars.
In 2008, Genesis and Shanghai Hongxi Investment Inc., “Hongxi”, the other shareholder of USAI, agreed to increase USAI’s capital to $2,600,000 from $1,800,000. The increased capital was wholly funded by Genesis. Therefore, the capital contributed by Genesis in USAI increased to $2,166,900 from $1,366,900, accounting for 83.34% of the total capital; while the capital contributed by Hongxi remained unchanged, accounting for 16.66% of the total capital.
Wuhu was established in 2006 and mainly engaged in the production and sales of automobile steering systems. Jielong was established in 2006 and mainly engaged in the production and sales of electric power steering gears, “EPS”.
On March 7, 2007, Genesis established a wholly-owned subsidiary, Jingzhou Hengsheng Automotive System Co., Ltd, “Hengsheng”, to engage in production and sales of automotive steering systems. The registered capital of Hengsheng is $10,000,000.
The Company has business relations with more than sixty vehicle manufacturers, including FAW Group and Dongfeng Auto Group, two of the five largest automobile manufacturers in China; Shenyang Brilliance Jinbei Co., Ltd., the largest minivan manufacturer in China; Cherry Automobile Co., Ltd, the largest state owned car manufacturer in China, and Zhejiang Geely Automobile Co., Ltd., the largest private owned car manufacturer. In 2007 and 2008, the Company has supplied power steering pumps and power steering gears for the Sino-Foreign joint ventures established by General Motors (GM) and Volkswagen.
The Company currently owns two trademarks covering automobile parts and twelve Chinese patents covering power steering technology. The Company is in the process of integrating new advanced technologies such as electronic chips in power steering systems into its current production line and is pursuing aggressive strategies in technology to maintain a competitive edge within the automobile industry. In 2001, the Company signed a Ten-Year Licensing Agreement with Bishop Steering Technology Limited, a leader in automotive steering gear technology innovation which offers advanced technology for steering valves within the contract period. In 2003, the Company signed a Technology Transfer Agreement with Nanyang Ind. Co. Ltd., a leading steering column maker, for the technology necessary for electronic power steering (EPS) systems. In addition, the Company established with Tsinghua University a steering systems research institute designed to develop Electronic Power Steering (EPS) and Electronic Hydraulic Steering Systems (EHPS).
SALES AND MARKETING
The Company’s sales and marketing team has 102 sales persons, which are divided into an original equipment manufacturing, “OEM”, team, a sales service team and a working group dedicated to international business. These sales and marketing teams provide a constant interface with the Company’s key customers. They are located in all major vehicle producing regions to more effectively represent the Company’s customers’ interests within the Company’s organization, to promote their programs and to coordinate their strategies with the goal of enhancing overall service and satisfaction. The Company’s ability to support its customers is further enhanced by its broad presence in terms of sales offices, manufacturing facilities, engineering technology centers and joint ventures.
The Company’s sales and marketing organization and activities are designed to create overall awareness and consideration of, and therefore to increase sales of, the Company’s modular systems and components. To achieve that objective, the Company organized delegations to visit the United States, Korea, India and Japan and met with potential customers. Through these activities, the Company has generated potential business interests as a strong base for future development.
The Company’s distribution system covers all of China. The Company has established sales and service offices with certain significant customers to deal with matters related to such customers in a timely fashion. The Company also established distribution warehouses close to major customers to ensure timely deliveries. The Company maintains strict control over inventories. Each of these sales and service offices sends back to the Company through e-mail or fax information related to the inventory and customers’ needs. The Company guarantees product delivery in 8 hours for those customers who are located within 200 km from the Company’s distribution warehouses, and 24 hours for customers who are located outside of 200 km from the Company’s distribution warehouses. Delivery time is a very important competitive factor in terms of customer decision making, together with quality, pricing and long-term relationships.
EMPLOYEES AND FACILITIES
As of December 31, 2008, the Company employed approximately 2,487 persons, including approximately 1,631 by Henglong and Jiulong, approximately 261 by Shengyan, approximately 283 by Zhejiang, approximately 43 by USAI, approximately 130 by Wuhu, and approximately 139 for Hengsheng.
As of December 31, 2008, each of Henglong and Jiulong, Shenyang, Zhejiang, Wuhu and Hengsheng has a manufacturing and administration area of 278,092 square meters, 35,354 square meters, 100,000 square meters, 83,700 square meters and 170,520 square meters, respectively.
Hubei Province, which is home to Dongfeng, one of the largest automakers in China, provides an ample supply of inexpensive but skilled labor to automotive-related industries. The annual production of the Company’s main product, power steering gears, was approximately 1,290,000 units and 1,070,000 units in 2008 and 2007 respectively. Although the production process continues to rely heavily on manual labor, the Company has invested substantially in high-level production machinery to improve capacity and production quality. Approximately $33.6 million was spent over the last three years on professional-grade equipment and workshops — approximately 81% of which has used in the production process as of December 31, 2008.
The Company purchases various manufactured components and raw materials for use in its manufacturing processes. The principal components and raw materials the Company purchases include castings, electronic parts, molded plastic parts, finished sub-components, fabricated metal, aluminum and steel. The most important raw material is steel. The Company enters into purchase agreements with local suppliers. The annual purchase plans are determined at the beginning of the calendar year but are subject to revision every three months as a result of customers’ orders. A purchase order is made according to monthly production plans. This protects the Company from building up inventory when the orders from customers change.
The Company’s purchases from its ten largest suppliers represent in the aggregate 26.8% of all components and raw materials it purchased for the year ended December 31, 2008, and none of them providing more than 10% of total purchases.
RESEARCH AND DEVELOPMENT
The Company has a ten-year consulting and licensing agreement with Bishop Steering Technology Ltd, one of the leading design firms in power steering systems. Bishop’s technology in power steering systems is currently used by carmakers such as BMW and Mercedes Benz. Pursuant to the agreement, the Company has implemented the Bishop steering valve technology into the Henglong brand R&P power steering gear.
The Company owns a Hubei Provincial-Level Technical Center, which is approved by the Hubei Economic Commission. The center has a staff of 140, including 12 senior engineers, 2 foreign experts and 85 engineers, primarily focused on steering system R&D, tests, production process improvement and new material and production methodology application.
In addition, the Company has partnered with Tsinghua University to establish a steering system research center, called Tsinghua Henglong Automobile Steering Research Institute, for the purposes of R&D and experimentation for Electronic Power Steering, “EPS”.
The Company believes that its engineering and technical expertise, together with its emphasis on continuing research and development, allow it to use the latest technologies, materials and processes to solve problems for its customers and to bring new, innovative products to market. The Company believes that continued research and development activities, including engineering, are critical to maintaining its pipeline of technologically advanced products. The Company has aggressively managed costs in other portions of its business in order to maintain its total expenditures for research and development activities, including engineering, at approximately $2,260,000, $1,700,000, and $1,100,000 for the years ended December 31, 2008, 2007 and 2006, respectively. In 2008, the sales of newly developed products accounted for about 9.8% of total sales.