Chinese carmakers break UzAuto monopoly as they move in on Uzbek market

Chinese carmakers break UzAuto monopoly as they move in on Uzbek market
Now at a showroom near you, the Chery Tiggo 8 Pro. / Chery.
By Muzaffar Ismailov in Tashkent March 2, 2023

China’s Chery, a state-owned automaker that has become one of the first foreign automotive brands in years to launch production in Uzbekistan, looks likely to put a big dent in the decades-long car monopoly held by UzAuto Motors.

That’s according to analysts and local car owners who have watched the first phase of Chery’s presence in Uzbekistan with fascination.

Last October, Tashkent was treated to a ceremony dedicated to the official sales launch for Chery’s Tiggo 7 Pro, Tiggo 8 Pro and Tiggo 8 Pro Max cars. The vehicles are all assembled at the ADM Jizzakh plant in Uzbekistan.

Even though Chery models are more expensive than cars produced by state-held UzAuto Motors, they are enjoying firm demand among Uzbeks who for decades have faced an extremely limited choice of cars due to high import duties that have kept out foreign makes. The duties meant consumers faced paying 120% more than the initial value of an imported car.

Today, however, as drivers surveyed by bne IntelliNews noted, every 10th car on the streets bers the words “Made in China”.

An additional circumstance that may help Chinese automakers occupy a big niche in Uzbekistan is the market focus on electric vehicles (EVs) and hybrid cars suitable for the Uzbek market.

In October last year, President Shavkat Mirziyoyev observed the growing importation of EVs into the country. In 11M22, Uzbekistan imported cars from 33 foreign countries. China led the list with 10,071 cars dispatched. The prominence of EVs among them, while small, was growing at a fast rate.

Mirziyoyev has also talked about the importance of producing “affordable, low-cost, modern EVs”.

In other local auto market developments, Chinese brand, BYD Auto, recently concluded an agreement with UzAuto to set up an auto assembly plant in Uzbekistan, while Chinese carmaker Exeed has announced plans to start producing cars in Uzbekistan in early 2023. Additionally, a joint venture called “UzFoton” is to be established in cooperation with the Chinese to produce medium-capacity trucks and minibuses. Chinese Oshan cars are also to be assembled and sold in Uzbekistan, with estimated prices expected to range from $13,000 to $30,000.

Chinese EV brands including Jetour, Haval, Hongqi, XPeng, Changan and Dongfeng have, meanwhile, opened dealerships and sales offices in Uzbekistan. The main factors driving Uzbek consumers who opt for Chinese EVs are the relatively low cost, the extended driving range and ease of use. 

As bne IntelliNews reported in February, Geely Auto, based in Hangzhou, China, has also arrived on the Uzbek market. The first Geely model to go on sale in Uzbekistan will be the Geely Geometry C electric crossover. “A car with a 204 hp engine and a power reserve of up to 550 km will be offered to buyers at an attractive price,” said Saijon Tursunov, commercial director at Asaka Motors.

UzAuto (formerly GM Uzbekistan) was founded in 1993 and is the largest car manufacturer in the CIS. As part of the company's strategic cooperation with US giant General Motors Global, the company produces a wide range of Chevrolet brand cars according to the full-cycle assembly model (complete knockdown, or CKD).

UzAuto production is carried out at factories in Asaka in Andijan region and Pitnak in Khorezm region. UzAuto has also established car assembly lines in Kazakhstan and Azerbaijan.