A quarter of top car-industry billionaires call China home, a list from Shanghai-based Hurun magazine that documents the life of the wealthy, showed.
This year's Richest People from the Car Industry list named 45 billionaires from 13 countries. Their average fortune was $3.75 billion. Among them, 11 are from China.
Wei Jianjun, 50, chairman of the Hebei-based Great Wall Motors Co Ltd, is the richest self-made car entrepreneur in China. He ranked fifth with $7.7 billion. His company is China's largest private car brand and the biggest domestic manufacturer of SUVs and pickups.
Great Wall's market capitalization is more than $16.7 billion and annual production capacity is 800,000 vehicles. Total sales revenue was 56.8 billion yuan ($9.19 billion) in 2013 and net profit 8.3 billion yuan.
"It is no longer a secret that Chinese billionaires are huge buyers of luxury cars," Rupert Hoogewerf, chairman and chief researcher of Hurun Report, said. "But still it is quite a surprise for us to find out that Chinese are not only major buyers but also major profit-makers."
Most of China's leading automobile companies are State-owned, making it difficult to calculate personal wealth, he said.
Lu Guanqiu, founder and chairman of Wanxiang Group Corp, and his family are second to Great Wall's Wei.
Wanxiang is China's largest car-parts maker with a market capitalization of $3 billion. It invested in the UK, US, and 11 other countries. The company bought Fisker Automobile for $25 million this year and purchased US lithium battery manufacturer A123 Systems LLC in 2013.
Third richest is Wang Chuanfu, chairman of the Shenzhen-based BYD Co Ltd, one of three private car brands in China. During 2008's financial crisis, Warren Buffett paid HK$1.8 billion for a stake and became a major shareholder. Wang topped Hurun's rich list the following year. Wang and his cousin Lyu Xiangyang own 24 percent and 17 percent of BYD respectively.
Wang said in August the company was undergoing "a second takeoff" as it sought to increase overseas sales of its electric bus.
Trailing Wang is Li Shufu, founder of Zhejiang-based Geely Automobile Holdings Ltd, and his family. Last year Geely was worth more than HK$25 billion and reported sales of $4.8 billion. Profit was nearly $450 million. Li bought AB Volvo in 2010 - 83 years after the Swedish company rolled its first car off the production line - for $1.5 billion.
Chinese companies can grow in the European market by working with firms there with established sales, maintenance and resale networks, said Jacques Rad��, a partner and automotive expert at Roland Berger Strategy Consultants. That would keep total ownership costs competitive.
Nearly half the billionaires on the list own car brands, 36 specialize in auto retailing and the rest in parts. Eight people from Germany and eight from the US made the list. Four are from India.
The global top three are BMW AG heiress Susanne Klatten, the company's deputy chairman of the supervisory board Stefan Quandt and his mother Johanna Quandt, who own nearly half of BMW.