China purchased 141,000 industrial robots in 2017, up 58.1% year-on-year, but foreign brands accounted for nearly three quarters of that, showing that the gap is still widening between Chinese robot makers and their foreign peers.
The China International Robot Industry Summit, held on Tuesday in Shanghai, said the sales and growth rate of industrial robots hit records in 2017. Among industrial robots, 37,825 were domestically manufactured, up 29.8% year-on-year.
Foreign robot makers sold 103,191 robots to China in 2017, up 71.9% from a year earlier.
Although Chinese domestic suppliers have expanded their market share to 32.7% in 2016, the trend was reversed in 2017, as their share shrank to 26.8%, said Qu Daokui, president of China Robot Industry Alliance.
"As robotics is expanding into nearly every industry, Chinese robot makers should realize the gap between them and foreign brands, take advantage of China's robotics development boom and learn from foreign experience to help China grow from the world's largest robot market into a robot manufacturing power," said Qu.
In his report of Global Market of Industrial Robots, Junji Tsuda, president of International Federation of Robotics (IFR), noted that about 387,000 industrial robots were sold in 2017 worldwide, up 31% year-on-year, creating $50 billion in revenue, with China as one of key drivers behind the strong growth.
China has become the world's largest industrial robot market since 2013, and currently its domestic suppliers are moving up the supplier chain by offering more high-end products in recent years, added the report.