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Interview: French auto supplier Valeo recognizes importance of Chinese market for electric cars -- company head

  LAS VEGAS, Jan. 9 (Xinhua) -- "The Chinese market is the biggest market in the world, so we absolutely need to be present and to grow our presence in the market," Jacques Aschenbroich, chairman and CEO of French automotive supplier Valeo, told Xinhua.

  In an interview at the ongoing Consumer Electronics Show (CES), Aschenbroich pointed out the "upmost importance" of the Chinese market in electric cars, citing a report which says that about half of the world's electric cars have been sold in China.

  Some 15 percent of the company's global turnover in electric cars comes from China, Aschenbroich said. "Chinese customers are very important for us."

  At a press conference before the opening of the CES, Valeo announced its strategic cooperation with Meituan, one of China's leading on-demand food delivery platforms, and the two sides will work together on autonomous delivery vehicles.

  Valeo is going to deliver droids using 48V mild hybrid technology to Meituan, the company said in a tweet earlier. The Chinese company said in a statement that its French counterpart would provide key auto parts such as engines and sensors.

  Valeo, with a history of over 90 years, has been pursuing innovation since 2009 in a bid to transform itself from a traditional auto supplier into a tech company which designs innovative solutions for smart mobility.

  "Some new players bring a new concept of mobility into the market and Meituan is one of those new players," Aschenbroich said, adding that he is "convinced" that the two can "take a leading position" in the market.

  The French company is also working with Baidu and other Chinese partners in digital mobility, Aschenbroich said.

  Besides the vast market and innovative ideas, Aschenbroich is also drawn to China because of its rich pool of talent. "I'm very, very impressed with what is happening in China, the leading companies and innovation, and the education of young engineers is very, very impressive," he said.

  Valeo has been working with Chinese universities in cities like Shanghai, Shenzhen and Wuhan. At the CES last year, it demonstrated the 48V mild hybrid technology together with Shanghai Jiao Tong University.

  The company currently boasts 14 research and development (R&D) centers in China.

  "We're increasing in different locations in China our R&D footprint in order to really deal with the Chinese customers, Chinese universities and upgrade our competency in China," Aschenbroich said.