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Chongqing Enterprise Grows from Small Repair Shop to Industry Leader

By CHANG CHEN|Jul 03,2024

Chongqing - Chongqing Lilong Science & Technology Industrial Group Co., Ltd., or Lilong Technology, has transformed from a small repair shop into an industry leader in automotive components. Focusing on high-tech products such as control cables, window regulators, and automotive instruments, Lilong has carved out a significant share of the market through strategic partnerships and relentless innovation.

The company had only 22 employees when it was first established. It has now grown to employ more than 4,000 people, with annual sales revenue exceeding 3.5 billion yuan (USD 480 million). It holds the leading market share in the fields of cables and window regulators, ranks among the top in automotive instruments, and has even ventured into the development of artificial hearts. 

File photo: In 1994, Japan's HI-LEX Corporation visited Lilong Technology's predecessor. (Photo/Lilong Technology)

Cooperating with Japanese companies

In the 1990s, Chongqing's burgeoning motorcycle industry attracted numerous Japanese companies. Initially, Japanese firm Hi-lex, a global leader in control cable systems, had intended to partner with a company in the Jiangsu-Zhejiang region. However, a visit to Lilong Technology's predecessor changed their minds. Impressed by the company’s capabilities and the dedication of its leader, Zhang Benyan, Hi-lex decided to collaborate with Chongqing instead.

By the mid-1990s, Lilong Technology’s predecessor was already a significant player in motorcycle cables and instruments. Zhang seized the opportunity when Japanese firms showed interest in entering the Chinese market. Over a year of negotiations and more than 100 rounds of talks culminated in the formation of the Sino-Japanese joint venture: Chongqing Hi-lex Cable System Group Co., Ltd. These partnerships enabled Lilong Technology to access advanced technology and quality management practices, paving the way for exponential growth.

Following the joint ventures, Lilong Technology expanded from motorcycle components to automotive products. By adopting Japanese production standards and quality control measures, the company quickly became a trusted supplier for major Japanese car manufacturers. 

To diversify its market, Lilong Technology invested heavily in research and development, creating a robust R&D team and spending over 150 million yuan to innovate. These efforts paid off, allowing Lilong Technology to secure contracts with global giants like Volkswagen, Audi, and BMW.

Production line of Chongqing Hi-lex Cable System Group Co., Ltd. (Photo/Chongqing Hi-lex Cable System Group Co., Ltd.)

Venturing into artificial heart technology

In 2014, Lilong Technology took a bold step into the medical field, collaborating with Hi-lex to develop an artificial heart. With over 10 million heart failure patients in China and limited access to heart transplants, this venture aimed to provide a lifesaving alternative at a fraction of the cost of international products. 

After significant investment and five years of development, Lilong Technology’s artificial heart—EVAHEART, received early approval from the National Medical Products Administration, becoming China’s first domestically produced artificial heart. These artificial hearts are available in over 20 provincial regions today, with prices 30% lower than foreign alternatives.

Production line of Chongqing Evaheart Medical Device Co., Ltd. (Photo/Chongqing Evaheart Medical Device Co., Ltd.)

Embracing smart technology and future innovations

Despite its success, Lilong Technology remains vigilant about future challenges. The shift towards smart, connected vehicles means traditional control cables may become obsolete. Lilong Technology has partnered with Chongqing University of Posts and Telecommunications to develop smart automotive technologies to stay ahead.

In June 2024, a visit from Hi-lex’s new leadership confirmed Lilong Technology's progress in smart technology, showcasing products that rival Japanese advancements. Looking forward, Lilong Technology is exploring new collaborations to enter the fields of ultrasonic gas meters and carbon-neutral air conditioning systems, demonstrating its commitment to ongoing innovation and market expansion.

(She Zhenfang, the Chinese reporter from Chongqing Daily, also contributed to this article.)


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