Chinese Automakers Eye U.S. Market

Chinese Cars in Detroit Video

Four Chinese automakers displayed cars at the 2008 Detroit auto show, and while none of these models are available in the U.S. now, three of the companies said they plan to have cars for sale here in the future. We’ll believe it when we see them, but here’s a rundown on each company:

BYD

Key facts: Created in 1995, BYD is a battery maker that specializes in nickel-cadmium and lithium-ion batteries. The company employs 120,000 people, and it entered the car business in 2003 through an acquisition.

Car looks like: The F6 DM resembles a Kia Optima on the outside and a previous-generation Honda Accord on the inside. The front of the F8 sports car bears a striking resemblance to the Mercedes-Benz SL-Class roadster.

Chances of making it to the U.S.: BYD Auto hopes to begin selling its F6 DM plug-in hybrid in the U.S. in three to five years. BYD America vice president Micheal Austin says the car will be priced between $20,000 and $30,000 when it goes on sale in the U.S.

Chamco Auto

Key facts: Chamco isn't a manufacturer, it’s a distribution company based in the U.S. that’s formed a partnership with Hebei Zhongxing Automobile Company to import vehicles to the U.S., Canada and Mexico. The Chinese automaker's SUV and pickup are already sold in 52 countries.

Car looks like: The SUV resembles Mitsubishi's now-discontinued Montero Sport, and the pickup truck looks like a previous generation of the crew cab Nissan Frontier. Brand and model names for the U.S. versions of these models haven’t been decided.

Chances of making it to the U.S.:
Chamco intends to begin importing the SUV and pickup truck by the end of this year. Chamco’s director of dealer development, Michael Ross, says it will price the vehicles 20% less than competitors' offerings. In late 2009, Chamco plans to import a Chinese-made sedan and crossover.

Changfeng Motor

Key facts:
This is a subsidiary of the Changfeng Company, which is operated by the Hunan provincial government. The Changfeng Company employs more than 6,300 people.

Car looks like:
The SUVs that could serve as its first U.S. models -- the Liebao CS6 and Liebao CS7 -- resemble the Lexus GX 470 and a shrunken version of the Hyundai Santa Fe, respectively.

Chances of making it to the U.S.:
Changfeng says it hopes to start selling cars in the U.S. next year. If the cars are going to be competitive, however, their interior quality needs to be raised significantly. The SUVs' cabins were unimpressive and emitted a heavy chemical smell that made me nauseous after only a few minutes inside.

Geely

Key facts:
Established in 1986, Geely Holding Group is a private company that employs about 8,000 people. It began producing cars in 1997.

Car looks like:
The FC resembles an enlarged Toyota Corolla, while the TX4 is a Chinese-made edition of the classic London taxi.

Chances of making it to the U.S.:
It's unclear what the company's plans are; when questioned on when it might have cars for sale in the U.S., Geely wouldn't commit to any time frame.


By Mike Hanley | January 24, 2008 | Comments (7)

Comments 

Did anyone ask about crash testing? Can you even sell a car in the US that gets a zero star rating?

Chinese cars sold in the U.S. will have to meet the same minimum crash-test and emissions standards as cars currently on sale here. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration's star-rating crash-test program uses crash tests that are actually more severe (higher impact speeds) than the crash tests set forth in the Federal Motor Vehicle Safety Standards.

Juan Carlos

saw them in colombia and they make the scion xb look like a billion bucks. they are aweful to look at.

Marcus

Chinese=Kings of Counterfiet

Peppy

wow most of those cars are cars we already have. But the ones we have are probably a 1,000 times better.

Javarod

I can tell you why Geely isn't saying when they're coming here, they're prolly trying to decide if their reputation in the scooter community is going to hurt when they try to sell cars. Chinese scooters are well known for quality problems, although there are some fairly good products in there, you still need to know how to fix it yourself, or the money you save will be spent keeping it running. Geely is one of the poorest makers of scooters, and while it hasn't been confirmed, word is that they got in trouble with the EPA for their 50cc 2T turbo model that was actually a 50cc with a 70cc bore kit, while the EPA tested models were just regular 50cc units.

Infosaur

Ugly may not be a crime, but I thought plagerism was.

That F8 should get a huge lawsuit from Mercedes.

The Changfeng Liebao CS6, is the only one that looks close to attractive but I hate SUV's anyway.

The Geely TX4 might sell as a joke. It's so ugly it's kinda funky. And there's something about the Hifun that I like. Must be the Retro-80's Renault look. Quality is probably the same too.

The Coupe looks terrible from the front but I'll give them credit because coupes are where you take design risks. Yet, there's something about that rear that I like a little bit, somthing about the tail lights works for me.

Oh well.

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