By on December 21, 2009

Gang of four. Picture courtesy  gwm.com.cn

Last month, we reported that China’s Great Wall received the EC Whole Vehicle Type Approval (WVTA,) awarded by the UK Vehicle Certification Agency (VCA) for their Coolbear MPV, which makes the car legal for sale in Europe.

Since this approval is lengthy (takes about a year) and costly (even when administered by the VCA, which is known for bargain basement pricing,) the announcement was taken as an intention of Great Wall to enter the European  market. Here they come:

I.M. Group, a UK-based  importer and distributor for Subaru, Isuzu and Daihatsu, has signed an agreement  with Great Wall, that covers the importation of Great Wall vehicles into Europe, starting next year, Gasgoo reports.

Initially, the small (and poor) Baltic states of Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania will be targeted as some kind of a test market. From 2011 on, launches in Scandinavia, the UK and Ireland are planned.

On closer inspection, it now turns out that Great Wall had not received one, but a total of four WVTA certifications: For the Florid, Coolbear, Hover 5, and Wingle 4.

Great Wall is not the only manufacturer who has received WVTA. But WVTA is only half of the bargain. To make the vehicle totally legit, the company must survive what is called an “initial assessment,” an intrusive colonoscopy-like procedure, in which foreign inspectors dissect the deepest secrets of a company, from product management to conformity of production, all the way down to how parts of old cars can be re-used and recycled. In other words: You can’t just present a compliant prototype. You must also prove that you are able to produce it in consistent quality. According to a statement by Great Wall, they are the first Chinese car company to successfully complete such an assessment. Without a positive initial assessment, you have spent a lot of time and money for the certification of a car, and you still can’t sell it freely in Europe.

Great Wall is one of the few privately owned Chinese car makers. The I.M. Group maintains an office in Beijing, employing about 40 people. Coincidentally, the Chinese Rep Office of the VCA is just down the hall. I.M. is in Unit 801 of the Manhattan CNT Building in Beijing, the VCA is in Unit 818.

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19 Comments on “The Chinese Are Coming!...”


  • avatar
    UnclePete

    There seems to be a lot of appropriation in the design language. The top two look like Toyota/Scion products, the black one looking like a melange of a Xb and a Kia Soul, and the red one like the early Xa or Toyota Echo. The pickup looks like a Nissan Frontier, and the minivan/CUV a bit like a Mazda CX-9. All they need is a Honda-styled product to complete the Japan collection…

    • 0 avatar
      mdensch

      Just like those Rolex knock-offs you can buy on the streets of NYC.  I can’t wait to see the Audi versions they come up with.

    • 0 avatar
      Roundel

      This is exactly the first thing I thought when I saw this picture.
      The pickup is a Frontier with Jetta headlamps, the SUV a more squared off CX-9
      The black car is essentially a 1st gen xB with Taurus headlamps and a new Kia inspired grill
      And the red hatchback is essentially an uglier Yaris…. if thats even possible.

  • avatar
    wmba

    I need to own a vehicle with the moniker Wingle 4. With a Cool Bear for hot days, or is the Florid for folks who can’t take the heat? Then I can take the Hover 5 for an aerial gander at my extensive real estate holdings. Translating these names into Estonian should be good for a convulsive burst of laughter..

    Seriously, will Chinese companies spend a bit of time coming up with decent names for their vehicles as the Japanese did 40 years ago, or will these lame names be all they can come up with in the mad rush to sell clones of other people’s intellectual property to the developed world?

  • avatar
    TonyJZX

    they are called the X250 and V220 etc. in Australia/NZ
    the local importers worked out Wingle and Hover won’t go down well in western markets

  • avatar
    YZS

    Comon, this post needs a much higher dose of xenophobia, where are the “we will become a third world country” posters? 

  • avatar
    Thagomizer

    If they have colour options for the Wingle 4, you can pick a reddish/purple-ish colour for your vehicle and call it a Wingleberry.
     

  • avatar
    FreedMike

    …and of course, all come with the coveted “happy ending” option…

  • avatar
    autonut

    I think they already came and in rather large quantities: 1.2 billions of them!

  • avatar
    Runfromcheney

    So, for the price of a used Fiesta, you can get a crappilly built Scion xB knockoff with an idiotic name. I think I will pass.
     
    I know all that stuff you say about how the Chinese will be kicking ass one day in the auto industry, just like the Japanese and Koreans, but come on! If Toyota came to the US with a Chevy Corvair knockoff named the “Gyatsu”, they wouldn’t have lasted a month.

  • avatar
    wsn

    If the typical TTACer were to be believed, Walmart would have closed down many years ago.

    • 0 avatar
      superbadd75

      I wish. Unfortunately too many Americans like their cheap crap products, without regard to where it’s made. We’d be far better off as a nation if WalMart sold American products like they once did, or we’d at least have more jobs to offer.

  • avatar
    CyCarConsulting

    This will probably crush the European car industry immediately, since no matter where you are on the globe, price is everything, and  saving your country’s jobs are not.  The idiots that shop at Wal Mart can tell you that. Shoddy workmanship and promises that at very rarely kept will be the only saving grace for European car builders down the road. Until then can you say Excel?

  • avatar
    superbadd75

       Scion xB/Toyota Yaris
    Frontier/Mitsu Outlander?
    I can understand that they may not have a problem selling this stuff in China, but would there not be some copyright laws or some such to prevent it from being sold elsewhere? Why do automakers not take full-on legal action against this crap, or can they not do that? I’m sure that part if the problem is that they don’t want to rock the boat and get kicked out of the HUGE Chinese market, but could governments from other nations not appeal to the Chinese regarding the IP of these companies that are clearly getting ripped off? This is just total B/S!

  • avatar
    James2

    The Chinese may be coming to… Europe. But not to America, methinks. Judging from Top Gear just about anything with four wheels is allowed to exist (see Clarkson driving that little egg inside the BBC building) but America is the Land of the Lawyer and even the Chinese must know that not even the great and sainted Mao can withstand a typical class-action lawsuit.
     
    If Apple and Microsoft can tangle over the “look-and-feel” of the GUI user interfaces, just imagine what our lawyers can do with the typical copycat (If they can do it, we can do it worse!) nature of Chinese “design”. Just imagine the legal fees!
     
    Besides, judging from the explosive growth in domestic sales, why would the Chinese bother to try their hand in a shrinking American car market?


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