Together with my team, I’m helping to ensure that TRATON GROUP commercial vehicles will soon roll off the production line in China. This task is challenging, but it also demonstrates a commitment with vision, because China is the world’s largest single market for commercial vehicles. TRATON brands Scania and MAN are already part of this vibrant economic area with their vehicles. Soon, trucks for the Chinese market will be produced locally at the new plant in Rugao. This is why our commitment in China is one of our priorities this year, helping to advance the TRATON Way Forward strategy.

The stunning Shanghai skyline at dusk – a captivating sight in the heart of the bustling metropolis.

We have a total of 500 people in our team: 10% of them – myself included – are expats from other TRATON brands, the rest are from China. We mainly communicate in English; sometimes I also try to communicate in Chinese. But I still have a lot to learn, which is unsurprising given it is a language with more than 70,000 characters.

Our offices are located in Shanghai and Rugao, where the Project team is preparing for the expansion of the local product portfolio and takes care of the development of local sales and service capacities. The Research & Development department also works here. The new factory, which will be an integral part of TRATON’s global production network in the future, is currently being built approximately 180 kilometers to the northwest in Jiangsu province. Starting in 2025, production will begin at the Rugao plant, which is designed for an annual capacity of 50,000 vehicles. This commitment makes sense. After all, demand in China for special vehicles such as refuse collection, road sweepers and water sprinklers is increasing, underlining the promising outlook for this market segment. As Christian Levin, Chairman of the Executive Board of TRATON SE and Chief Executive Officer of Scania CV AB, said recently: “In more than 60 years, Scania has never made such a large investment abroad.”

Our local colleagues and partners along the local supply chain are proud to work with and for us, as TRATON, and particularly our Scania and MAN brands, enjoy an excellent reputation in China. In addition to the excellent quality of our vehicles, people in China appreciate the international make-up of our team, with different cultures working together in pursuit of a common goal. We feel the same way about our project.

My experience at Volkswagen Truck & Bus in Brazil greatly helped me in developing a product that has been adapted for local production, sales and service capacities (in China for China). For example, by involving partners in the development of local components more closely and giving them more responsibility. When working with suppliers, I have one fundamental principle: any agreement must be made at eye level. If something has been promised, it must be kept.

Ronaldo Candido da Silva Jr. by the Terracotta-Army in the Mausoleum of the First Qin Emperor.
The awe-inspiring Terracotta Army in Xi'an – a glimpse into China's rich history; featuring two touchable replicas.

What has surprised me during my assignment in China so far? The incredible speed and consistency of following through on a decision once it has been made. There is no standing still in China, only an unwavering drive to achieve progress. The motto is to simply get on with it.

China is a country where Western expats also learn to improvise and try out new technical tools in everyday life. One example is when talking to taxi drivers. Simply speak English into WeChat, a form of smartphone communication/translation app and show the written Chinese translation on the display to the driver. The driver then responds in Chinese, which in turn is translated into English.

I have been living in Shanghai with my wife and daughter since August 2023. I’m in the city on the banks of the Huangpu River two working days a week and at weekends, and on the other three days I'm at our R&D office in Rugao. The futuristic skyline of the Pudong district, featuring the 632-meter Shanghai Tower and the TV Tower adorned with its distinctive pink spheres, is certainly worth seeing in Shanghai. My family and I also visited the old town between Renmin Road and Zhonghua Road, which boasts winding alleyways and wooden houses. We’ve also been to Beijing and have already visited the Great Wall of China and the Terracotta Army in Xi’an.

After almost a year in China, I’m aware that there is still so much to discover in this captivating country: from finding a local volleyball team in Shanghai to witnessing the evolution of TRATON and our project in Rugao over the coming years. 

Best regards from Shanghai,