Operating Efficiency Evaluation of China Listed Automotive Firms: 2012–2016

Created by: Huichen Jiang

Abstract: As one of the important pillar industries in China, the automotive industry (i.e., the traditional vehicle and the new energy vehicle (NEV) sub-industries) plays a significant role in the national economy and social development. In this paper, by using the fixed assets, intangible assets, the operating expenses, and the number of employee as inputs and the operating income as output, we conduct efficiency evaluations based on data envelopment analysis (DEA) and Malmquist models, and measure the efficiency of listed automotive firms with the panel data of 77 listed A-share firms spanning from 2012 to 2016, statically and dynamically. The results show that the five-year average Malmquist indices of all the listed firms slightly decreased due to the decline of the technical change and the improvement of the efficiency change. We subdivide the automotive industry into the traditional vehicle and NEV industries, and find that the NEV industry performed better than the traditional one. We combine the industry development and efficiency evaluation, and believe that the NEV will be a new driving force of the economy.


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1. Introduction

As one of the important pillar industries in China, the automotive industry plays a significant role in the national economy and in social development. According to the latest statistics released by the China Association of Automobile Manufactures (CAAM), the total production and sales volume of Chinese cars reached a new high with 28.119 million vehicles produced and 28.028 million vehicles sold. The production and sales showed relatively rapid growth, and have ranked first among world economies since 2009 [1].
Along with the rapid development of the automotive industry, the existing energy and environmental problems cannot be ignored. First, massive car ownership accelerates the very large demand for crude oil. In 2016, Chinese car ownership reached 295 million. According to the report of the China Energy News, the dependence on foreign oil rose to 65.4% for the year [2]. Second, there is an urgent demand of preventing and controlling the pollution of motor vehicle emissions. Currently, the automobiles in China are mainly fueled by gasoline and diesel refined from crude oil [3], and, according to the report of the Ministry of Environmental Protection of the People’s Republic of China (MEPPRC), the vehicle emissions of China in 2016 were estimated to be around 44.725 million tons, becoming a significant source of air pollution in China, resulting in Particulate Matter 2.5 (PM2.5) pollution and photochemical smog [4].
Nowadays, the Chinese economy has entered into an era of “New Normal”, the vision of green development has been gradually absorbed into the vehicle industry in the background of the “low-carbon economy”. Moreover, it is an important measure for cultivating new momentum and accelerating the transformation and upgrading of the automotive industry to develop the new energy vehicle (NEV) industry. According to the Energy-Saving and New Energy Automobile Industry Development Plan 2012–2020, new energy vehicle (NEV) refers to automobiles that use a new type of power system (driven completely, or mainly relying on new energy sources). Currently, there are mainly three kinds of NEVs: battery electric vehicles, plug-in hybrid electric vehicles, and fuel cell vehicles [5]. During the inspection in Shanghai, Chinese President Xi Jinping pointed out that the automobile market was very large, the automotive industry was full of advanced technology and detailed management, and the development of new energy vehicles was the only road for China to transform from a large automobile-manufacturing country to a powerful one [6]. Premier Li Keqiang also pointed out the green development of China needed green products (i.e., NEVs), and Chinese firms should endeavor to build up global brands with innovation [7]. To facilitate the healthy development of the NEV industry, the Chinese government has formulated many policies and regulations (e.g., tax incentives, subsidy policies, and national and industrial standards). The policy support has sped up the development of NEVs in China. For enterprises, more and more automotive firms turn to, and concentrate on, the research and development (R&D) of NEVs and their spare parts, and hope to seize the opportunities as soon as possible, e.g., BYD and SAIC [8,9]. Some of them have achieved performance improvements and cost reductions. For customers, there has been an increase in choosing NEVs as one of the travel tools for Green Travel, the NEV ownership has exceeded one million in China, which is equivalent to 50% of the world NEV ownership [10]. Taking Beijing as an example, according to the communique of the Management Office subordinated to Beijing Traffic Management Bureau, the data show that the total quota of personal new energy vehicles of Beijing in 2017 was 51,000. However, city residents had divided up the quota in April. As of 12:00 p.m. on 8 December 2017, there were still 120,376 users wishing to buy a new energy vehicle waiting in line [11]. Overall, the NEV industry has been in the spotlight.
It has been more than 60 years since the construction of the First Automobile Manufactory in 1953, which was the beginning of the Chinese automotive industry. Based on the data manually collected by the authors, there were 3030 firms listed in China’s A-share stock market by the end of 31 December 2016, and 121 of them were focused on the R&D of vehicles, including automobiles and their spare parts. The number of automotive firms accounted for 3.7% of the number of A-share firms. The research and development of new energy vehicles rose in the early 2000s. In February 2009, the Ministry of Finance of the People’s Republic of China (MFPRC), the Ministry of Science and Technology of the People’s Republic of China (MSTPRC), the National Development and Reform Commission (NDRC), and the Ministry of Industry and Information of the People’s Republic of China (MIITPRC) convened a meeting to discuss the demonstration, promotion, and pilot schemes of NEVs and the cities including Beijing and Shanghai play an active part in that activity [12]. During the “two sessions” (the National People’s Congress and the National Committee of the Chinese People’s Political Consultative Conference), officers of the MFPRC and MIITPRC said that the pilot schemes produced good results as thousands of NEVs had been promoted. Moreover, people who wish to buy a NEV will get a purchase subsidy up to tens of thousands Renminbi (RMB) [13]. In 2014, because of the explosive growth of production and sales of the NEV industry, 2014 was called “the first year of new energy vehicle consumption” by the research institute of Ministry of Commerce of the People’s Republic of China (MCPRC) [14]. The data released by CAAM show that the production and sales volume were 51.7 million and 50.7 million in 2016, respectively [15].

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