Ariel Motor Co, Somerset-based builder of the Atom, has set up a joint venture in China to make and sell cars there, and potentially to establish the Atom as China’s “starter” racing car.
A new company, Quingdao Ariel Automotive Ltd, will manufacture cars at a new plant in the east coast city of Quingdao, where Olympic sailing events will be held in the 2008 games. The new company, which already holds 200 orders, aims to complete its first cars, which will be identical to those built in Somerset, by the end of the year.
Ariel founder and MD Simon Saunders says the new lead could eventually lead to the establishment of a proper Ariel test track in China, and believes Ariel could have components like bespoke lights and wheels made by Chinese suppliers.
This is Ariel’s second licensing deal. Over 100 Atoms have been built by a licensee in the US, where demand remains very high. Saunders sees such agreements as a way of satisfying growing demand, while keeping the company small. “There are things you can do when you’re our size which you can’t when you’re bigger,” he explained.