Three decades of auto, service and agriculture expansion

Ye Fengting
Jiading has transitioned from a county to a district since the establishment of the Shanghai Jiading District People's Government in 1993.
Ye Fengting

With the formation of the Shanghai Jiading District People’s Government on April 10, 1993, Jiading transitioned from a county to a district. Over the past three decades, it has transformed from a suburban “satellite city” into a modern urban district, fostering economic growth and social success.

Growth and upgrading in auto industry

Jiading, often known as Automobile City, is China’s largest automotive manufacturing hub, with the most extensive industrial chain and the most concentrated industrial cluster.

The district has undergone significant industrial expansion and restructuring, aiming to become a world-class automobile industry center.

Jiading is home to SAIC Volkswagen’s largest production base and research and development center.

Three decades of auto, service and agriculture expansion

The 100,000th Santana car rolled off the assembly line in 1993.

In 1993, the 100,000th Santana car rolled off the assembly line. The Shanghai Koito Automotive Lamp Co Ltd, which is now known as HASCO Vision Technology (Shanghai) Co Ltd, also chose to settle down in the district. Its technology center opened in 2002.

“Before then, we relied on technological imports,” said Zhu Minghua, deputy general manager of HASCO’s R&D department. “We’ve accelerated our independent development since 2002, resulting in a rapid increase in our self-developed products.”

Now, Jiading has transformed into a hub for renowned local and international automotive firms and R&D platforms, thereby increasing the core competitiveness of the automotive sector.

The Shanghai International Automobile City began to emerge in 2001, attracting a large number of high-quality projects and skills.

By the end of 2022, Jiading had around 4,300 auto-related businesses. The gross output value of car industrial businesses above the designated scale exceeded 385.5 billion yuan (US$53.8 billion).

Jiading’s industrial restructuring and upgrading have resulted in significant growth in the new-energy vehicle sector.

In 2011, Shanghai became China’s first international demonstration city for electric vehicles, with Jiading District serving as the demonstration zone. On January 23, 2013, Jiading issued the city’s first free license plate for new-energy vehicles.

Three decades of auto, service and agriculture expansion
Li Huacheng

SAIC Volkswagen’s first plant dedicated to manufacturing electric vehicles in Jiading District

SAIC Volkswagen’s first plant dedicated to manufacturing electric vehicles on the new modular electric drive matrix architecture, known as MEB, began production in 2020. Every 60 seconds, it can assemble a new-energy vehicle.

The district has devised strategies and regulations to promote high-quality development in the automobile industry, with a particular emphasis on the new-energy vehicle sector.

Jiading’s focus will be on the “new four modernizations” of the auto sector (electrification, the Internet of Things, intellectualization and sharing), smart sensors and IoT, high-performance medical equipment and precision medicine, and the online new economy.

This industrial development will provide significant momentum for the district’s future growth.

A jump in service sector

The service industry has been a major engine of economic expansion in Jiading District. The value-added output of the district’s tertiary industry climbed from 1.02 billion yuan in 1993 to 116.52 billion yuan in 2022, while retail sales of consumer products increased from 1.787 billion yuan in 1993 to 152.59 billion yuan in 2022.

The number of commercial complexes in the district has steadily increased. Currently, 22 commercial complexes have a building area of more than 10,000 square meters apiece.

In 1996, the Xinjia Shopping Mall had annual sales of approximately 70 million yuan, making it a well-known commercial landmark in Jiading then. The Jiading branch of the Orient Shopping Center opened at the end of 2007, filling a void in the district’s mid-to-high-end retail market. Sales at the mall reached 95.44 million yuan in the first eight months of 2008, a record for all suburban counterparts in the city.

Along with the building of large shopping malls such as Jiangqiao Wanda Plaza and Jiading Powerlong Plaza in subsequent years, shopping venue options have expanded, while consumer experiences have improved significantly.

The Nanxiang InCity Mega Mall, which spans 340,000sqm, opened in 2020. As one of Shanghai’s largest retail developments and Jiading’s first city-level commercial complex, it serves not just Jiading residents but also those from Shanghai’s northwest region.

Three decades of auto, service and agriculture expansion
Li Pin

The first Sam’s Club store in Jiading District opened in December last year.

The recent inauguration of Sam’s Club and TSF Shopping Center will undoubtedly improve Jiading’s retail scene even further.

New business models have revitalized the district’s service industry. By 2007, Jiading had over 25 specialized markets, including Shanghai Jiangqiao fresh produce wholesale market, Shanghai textiles market, and Oriental Auto Parts City.

In the first decade of the 21st century, rising sectors such as finance and insurance, information software, creative industries, and contemporary logistics have swiftly evolved, resulting in new growth drivers for the district’s service economy.

Tacheng Road now serves as the financial street, thanks to the presence of five commercial banks. By 2022, Jiading had 165 bank branches and a total deposit balance of 451.7 billion yuan.

Jiading’s online retail sales in 2022 totaled 101.74 billion yuan, accounting for 66.7 percent of the district’s total retail consumer goods sales. In terms of e-commerce, opened the world’s first unmanned warehouse at the Asia No. 1 logistics hub in 2017. All warehouse activities, including receiving, storage, packaging, and sorting, are completely automated.

The fourth phase, which will encompass 120,000sqm of floor space, is set to open this year with a daily capacity of 1 million parcels, encouraging e-commerce development in the sector.

Agriculture modernization and rural revitalization

Jiading has seen substantial improvements in agricultural production, rural landscape and farmer’s livelihoods, thanks to measures ranging from new villages and attractive countryside construction to rural regeneration.

Jiading built five agricultural demonstration zones in 1994 that were “high-yield, high-quality, and high-efficiency.” The district has been working to modernize its agriculture practices since 1997.

Technological improvements significantly improved large-scale, mechanical grain production. High-quality grain fields occurred in Waigang and Huating.

In 2016, the mechanization rate of rice production in Jiading surpassed 96 percent. In 2020, Waigang Town became Shanghai’s first unmanned farm pilot. It used unmanned agricultural machinery for plowing, seeding, field management, and harvesting, resulting in increased agricultural production and efficiency.

The district also aims to improve its agricultural system and increase farmers’ incomes.

Traditional livestock farming has fallen in recent years, but specialist agriculture has grown thanks to technology innovation and brand marketing. Malu produces grapes, Huating produces Hami melons, and Jiading Industrial Zone produces strawberries.

Three decades of auto, service and agriculture expansion
Zhou Yulin

The Xiangyue Huating wellness center in Lianyi Village

Jiading’s rural landscape has improved significantly since the beginning of the 21st century. The Xiangyue Huating wellness center in Lianyi Village opened at the end of 2023, improving the quality of rural tourism.

Jiading has also created popular agricultural and tourism destinations, such as Lijiang Ecological Park and Jiabei Country Park.

The number of visitors to these leisure agriculture sites has risen from 1.5 million in 2017 to 2.2 million in 2023.

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