BEIJING -- China's bicycling heritage has helped make Valeo's parking assistance an unexpected success here.
"In China, this technology is very popular because people are passing from a bicycle to a first car," says Ali Ordoobadi, Valeo's group vice president for China. "They don't have the skills to park a car correctly."
Valeo's parking assistance system has been installed mainly on high-end cars such as the Audi A6 in China.
Now, it is being installed on less expensive models such as Volkswagen's Passat sedan, which sells for 230,000 yuan (currently E21,500).
Valeo estimates that 30 percent of cars in China have some kind of parking assistance technology. But not all of it is Valeo's.
Valeo's parking assistance system can cost three times as much as a budget Chinese system, which may be sold on the aftermarket for as little as E37. Valeo is working on reducing its price, Ordoobadi says.
He says having the latest technology, especially in areas the government is emphasizing such as safety and emissions, is the way to stay ahead in China's market.
"We have started bringing our latest technology to China," Ordoobadi says.
At the Beijing auto show last June, Valeo showed its stop-start technology, which turns off the engine when a car is at a stop light or stuck in a traffic jam. It starts again using a motor that doubles as an alternator and starter.
"We think China is putting a lot of pressure on carmakers on the subject of the environment," Ordoobadi says. "This system was a big success."