Published on September 2nd, 2021 | by Subhash Nair


Chinese Commercial Vehicle Maker Foton Turns 25 Years Old

It’s hard to believe that these ‘new’ names like Foton have been around for so long.

To Malaysians, Chinese brands are relatively new and still quite uncommon for the most part. But it’s important to note that these brands have been around in China for many, many years.

One such brand is Foton, who indeed have a presence in Malaysia… or at least did have one before the pandemic. We’re not entirely sure if they’re still operating here.


In any case, Foton Motor just turned 25 years old and has sold 10 million vehicles in that time – the first Chinese commercial vehicle brand to reach that milestone.

Foton 25th anniversary poster

History of Foton

Foton began in August 1996 in Beijing. However it took them three years to sell their first light duty vehicle. They’ve come quite a long way since then. For the last ten years, Foton has consistently outsold every other Chinese commercial vehicle brand in terms of export.

Foton’s technology partners

Of course, no Chinese company has got to where it is without a big technological boost from a foreign partner. For Foton, the key foreign partners are Cummins, Daimler, ZF, C.P. Group and Piaggio.

BHPetrol_Euro5 Diesel_2021


Foton Cummins Engine Co. Ltd was founded in 2007 to strengthen the cooperation between Foton and their technology partner Cummins and together they’ve developed powertrain systems and more.


The partnership with Daimler, on the other hand, resulted in the creation of a new brand, Auman. This began in 2012.


The partnership with ZF started in 2017 with the opening of a production plant for automatic transmissions meant for commercial vehicles. This production plant supplies only the Chinese market and is located in Jiaxing, China.

C.P. Group

You may be surprised to see Thailand’s Charoen Pokphand (CP) Group listed here. But in fact Foton has a joint venture with them to produce a whole range of vehicles in Thailand. The joint venture between the two companies was signed back in 2019, but we’re not sure how far along the partnership has come.


Foton’s partnership with Italian 2-wheeler brand is a little ambitious as it involves a new range of light commercial vehicles developed jointly by the brands. Their first co-developed vehicle was launched at the beginning of 2021, just 2 years after development began. It’s called the Porter NP6.

Here’s the press release with more.


On August 28, Foton Motor is coming up on a special day, its glorious 25th anniversary celebration. Just in the first half of this year, Foton Motor has reached a 10 million-unit global sales milestone and becomes China’s first commercial vehicle company to exceed 10 million vehicles. During the time Foton Motor has left a splendid page in the process of commercial vehicle development. Over the past 25 year, the amount of Foton vehicle sales has grown to the highest of 10 million units in 2021, all those are the best proof of Foton Motor’s global expansion and strength.

In August, 1996, Foton Motor was established in Beijing China, and three years later (in 1999), it ranked the first in sales of light-duty vehicles. For ten consecutive years, Foton Motor has been maintaining the first place in commercial vehicle exports in China. These great achievements do not happen overnight, it is all premium products and services, years of research on customers and markets, consistent evolving over many years. The journey may be tough and the experience may be bitter, but Foton Motor has been stepping at a top “Foton speed”.

Since the beginning of unprecedented experiments to the present day, Foton motor has established cooperations with a large number of international first-class commercial vehicle players, including Cummins, Daimler, ZF, C.P. Group and Piaggio. These close cooperation ensure that every vehicle handed over to the customer is premium and reliable in performance. In 2007, Foton Motor and Cummins jointly set up Foton Cummins Engine Co., Ltd in China. During the past years, the cooperation between the two sides has expanded from product cooperation to in-depth cooperation in integrated supply chain, including powertrain system development and integrated optimization of vehicle. In 2012, Foton Daimler was established to produce and market Auman-branded trucks. In 2017, German auto component manufacturer ZF and Chinese truck manufacturer Foton announced that the companies have jointly opened a production plant in Jiaxing, China to produce automatic commercial vehicle transmissions for the Chinese market.

In Thailand, Charoen Pokphand (CP) Group and Foton Motor Group have set up a joint venture there to make all vehicles types. Foton motor said it was confident in the future growth prospects in Southeast Asia, targeting a top three position in Thailand. Foton Motor and Piaggio Group, europe’s largest scooter and motorcycle manufacturer had signed contract for the strategic development of a new range of light commercial vehicles. In January, 2021, Foton Motor and Piaggio Group jointly released their new light commercial vehicle, new Porter NP6 meeting Euro-VI Emission. However, It only took 2 years from product development to launch.

With the whole world focusing on new energy technologies, the major aspects of competition for new energy commercial vehicle in future include technological innovation, product quality, extended services and business models. Foton Motor has always been making investment in the field of new energy to develop vehicles that run on pure electric, hydrogen fuel cell, and hybrid power. At the same time, it has independently developed and mastered the core technology of new energy “three powers”. Up to now, India, Egypt and Chile have become one of the largest export destinations for Foton electric vehicles, with Chile the leading player in new energy buses.

Over the past 25 year, Foton Motor has never forgotten why it started. In the future, Foton Motor will continue to focus on the development of commercial vehicle, especially new energy vehicles, to provide global users with green, smart and efficient transport experience.

About the Author

Written work on @subhashtag on instagram. Autophiles Malaysia on Youtube.

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