By on October 4, 2012

Three years ago, I was counting down the days until Honda tossed me the keys to their Formula Red S2000 press car. Times have changed, and so have I. Honda doesn’t have anything remotely that cool in their lineup, and I’m getting excited to drive the first Chinese car from a major OEM to be sold on our shores. Yes, it comes from the Big H.

This past summer, my friend Brian Makse of Sympatico Autos took the Made in China Fit out for a week and found that it has left nothing on the table in terms of driving dynamics or build quality. His rationale was that high end consumer electronics have been Made in China for some time; why not premium cars?

Even with rock bottom lease deals on the Civic and supply issues relating to the yen/dollar exchange rate (and 2011′s tsunami) the Fit remains popular in Canada, and sourcing them from China is seen as a way to hedge against both of those issues. So why is the Chinese Fit available in Canada but not the United States? The answer is likely political, but we’ll make sure to ask Honda for good measure.

In the mean time, what do you want to know about the Made In China Fit? We’ll have a comprehensive review up after we get our hands on the car, starting October 25th. As always we’ll update our Facebook page during the week with our impressions and perhaps an appearance from Herr Schmauss.

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51 Comments on “QOTD: What Do You Want To Know About North America’s First Chinese Car?...”


  • avatar
    threeer

    One more nail in the coffin for US manufacturing. Pass…

    • 0 avatar

      So a made in Japan Fit is better for the US economy than a made in China one?

      • 0 avatar
        icemilkcoffee

        Of course. Japan is a country with equivalent wages, environmental laws, legal protections, workers’ protections, safety standards, etc, with the US. It is a fair competition and a level playing field. China has none of those things- it like getting in the boxing ring with with a guy wearing brass knuckles.

    • 0 avatar
      tatracitroensaab

      If something is made more efficiently somewhere else, why not? You can’t fight free trade, it’s proven by mainstream economics and endorsed by most of the “wise men” – publications like the economist, etc.

      Fighting free trade is like fighting evolution – you cant fight science.

      • 0 avatar

        The interesting thing in your example is the ones least likely to fight free trade in the US are the most likely to fight science I believe I saw a graph the other day that only 46% of Americans believe in evolution and unlike the rest of the world that number is trending down here.

        So you can fight it just might not be the right thing to fight.

      • 0 avatar
        RockKickass

        Um, Americans are not completely sold on Evolution and have been good at science since the transistor was invented……..

      • 0 avatar
        PrincipalDan

        Injecting into a political thread…

        Read – “Darwin’s Sacred Cause” to understand the man himself and his world better.

  • avatar
    Freddy M

    I think the only measure that matters to consumers (and as you pointed out, it’s a perception thing) is the durability and reliability over time.

    So unfortunately, I don’t think Herr Schmauss would be able to give an analysis on that.

    But anything that stands out as different. Perhaps, paint quality? My company has often had problems with our China plant in terms of paint finish and powder coating.

  • avatar
    TonyJZX

    i honestly dont think there’s that much of a story here… more scaremongering and anti china sentiment

    my prediction is that china cars turn out to be 99% identical… its basically your factory vs. my factory using the same processes and human capital (I assume Honda have indoctrinated the chinese workers)

    its more worrying once the Chinese have their own brands in the americas and in reality… who cares? buy or don’t buy… i dont see them being a competitive force in the next 5yrs or so… 10yrs? maybe… but it’ll be a vastly different world by then

    • 0 avatar
      azmtbkr81

      Seriously, what’s not to love about genocide, sweatshops, summary execution, censorship, extreme nationalism, and baby formula fortified with heavy metals?

      • 0 avatar
        TonyJZX

        i hardly think buying a Chinese Honda is going to directly perpetuate all the bad things about the Chinese govt.

        saying that we’re all on Chinese computers and electronics and the world still spins

        cars are another consumer durable/good – i dont see any difference with that a Chinese TV, laptop, phone etc etc

  • avatar
    burgersandbeer

    I’m thinking non-story as well. This concept comes up all the time in VW articles (Mexican vs Brazilian vs German factories). To me, the most logical answer is the factory will build the product to whatever spec the designer gives them. Add a well thought out manufacturing process and QA system, combined with good design, will make it pretty tough to assemble a product that differs from its western-assembled counterpart.

    I guess now we have a chance to find out. So…squeaks, rattles, panel fitment, that kind of thing.

    • 0 avatar
      iainthornton

      This is my thought process. In this industry the product is built to such tight standardisation that it’s almost impossible to build it differently between factories.

    • 0 avatar
      jeffzekas

      For years, VW has had a problem with substandard quality from their Mexican and east European factories- so, yes, Virginia, there is a difference twixt German, Mexican, Chinese, and Japanese built cars.

  • avatar
    Strippo

    I refuse to buy Chinese crap.

    Posted from my iPad.

    • 0 avatar
      Jellodyne

      Win.

      The reason people think Chinese made goods are crap is that most of them are — a lot of the companies looking to manufacture in China only care about price. China will make your cheap crap cheaper than anything else, if cheapnees is all you want. But they’ll also make good quality stuff, if you are willing to pay a bit more and stay on top of quality control (test, don’t trust on the QC).

      • 0 avatar
        PrincipalDan

        (test, don’t trust on the QC)

        Right, my question simply is; “Who are the QC experts in the factory on the assembly line?” Are they hired (and fired) by the JV partner or are they hired and fired by Honda directly? If someone wanted to start squeezing them to let defects “slide” who would be the one putting the pressure on them?

    • 0 avatar
      JMII

      You said it. Apple has been making products in China for years and the quality is top notch. Seriously go into your local Apple store and grab a new iPad or iPhone, examine it closely. They are made to incredibly tight tolerances… just with cheap labor to make them affordable to the mass market. Can this extend to something as big and complex as a car? I don’t see why not. Granted the first few years might be iffy. Thus I wouldn’t run out and buy one right away, but I bet in a few years (sadly) that you will not have a choice – as EVERYTHING (affordable) will be made in China.

      • 0 avatar
        Lorenzo

        Um, I had an iMac flat screen that developed colorful vertical lines on the screen, and a first generation iPhone that ate batteries. The local mac store fixed the iPhone – twice – and then gave me another one. The replacement stopped working THAT AFTERNOON, and I finally got a third one that has worked well since. The flat screen developed over 100 lines, obscuring text, and Apple refused to acknowledge the problem, let alone atone for it in any way. I still have an iMac, only because my sister gave me her old one when she upgraded to a larger screen.

    • 0 avatar
      azmtbkr81

      As if you have a choice. Nearly if not all consumer electronics are manufactured in the PRC. I have been researching smartphones and not a single one is manufactured anywhere else. Nokia shuttered their Finland factory and HTC is in the process of moving production from South Korea to China. Don’t care to prop up our largest geopolitical adversary with your hard earned dollars? Go off the grid…that’s the only option left.

      • 0 avatar
        NN

        my LG smartphone is made in Korea. So are some Samsung phones. HTC is made in Taiwan, not SK. Blackberry’s were at some point made in Canada, not certain if that’s still the case. So you don’t have to go off the grid, you just can’t buy Apple.

      • 0 avatar
        indi500fan

        I just purchased an Epson printer made in Indonesia (surprisingly).

  • avatar
    Stumpaster

    when it comes to quality of steel, the kind of quality that you don’t see on day one but more like on day 700, no thanks, I’ll pass. Try Chinese 316 stainless, check on it in two years on a boat, see those yellow marks?

    Too bad, Fit is one of my favorite cars. So were some of the Volvos.

  • avatar
    tparkit

    There’s not much I can do to avoid small consumer items from China, but I can and will avoid Chicom cars. There’s no reason to willingly prop up a criminal/thug nation. That’s unfortunate, because the Fit is the only truly nifty car Honda makes.

  • avatar
    thirty-three

    My expectations are not high for Chinese made cars. I’ve noticed that Japanese made Civics (5th gen) were better built than Canadian made Civics. The Japanese built cars were built to finer tolerances. The differences are largely irrelevant, like the diameter of hose fittings, and you don’t notice them until you start servicing the cars, but they are real.

    The Canadian made cars are excellent; I have one and it still runs great. My point is that the Japanese built cars are even better. I suspect that the Chinese built cars will also be somewhat poorer in quality, but only time will tell.

  • avatar
    juicy sushi

    Derek, I’d have rather bought one made in Alliston. But that doesn’t seem to be an option.

  • avatar
    Gardiner Westbound

    I suspect the quality of a Chinese-made car is at least as good as a Mexico sourced one. They’re learning fast, but they still can’t design them.

  • avatar
    stuntmonkey

    Big question is about the manufacturing, not the car. How does the Honda plant operate in China; what have they done to transport their corporate culture their, like they have with the Alliston plant?

  • avatar
    Volt 230

    Are they giving one away for a long term endurance and durability test, I’ll be willing to do it, I drive about 25k miles per year.

  • avatar
    danio3834

    Of course there’s nothing wrong with free trade, people should be able to choose what they want to buy.

    Personally, I choose to buy domesically manufactured products whever possible. Particularly those where I know someone involved in the manufacture of that product. Not very likely with something assembled in China.

    Of course then there are all the moralities of the labor conditions in China etc. That’s up to you to decide if that matters to you. It does to me, so I buy North American.

  • avatar
    Lampredi

    What I’m curious about is how many Canadian Fit buyers are aware that their car is manufactured in China, and how many of these would have decided to buy something else if they knew in advance. My guess is the percentage is not insignificant.

  • avatar
    Mandalorian

    I would like to see a back-to-back review with a regular US spec Fit.

  • avatar
    thalter

    I’d be curious what the VIN is. I assume it starts with an “L” to indicate Chinese manufacture.

    • 0 avatar
      iainthornton

      Welle, i know that Opels/Vauxhalls come with a German VIN, no matter where they’re produced

    • 0 avatar
      dash riprock

      In canada the origin of manufaturing is on the msrp window sticker.

      On would I buy a chinese car, my preference is to buy something manufactured in north America when possible. Not possible with most electronics. What I avoid as much as possible is buying food products made in China. Just do not trust thaat market enough to put into my body.

      • 0 avatar
        Dimwit

        Unfortunately you do not have much of a choice anymore. More and more of our processed products come from China with a few steps, like individual packaging done in Canada and it’s labelled “Canadian”.

        Too bad.

  • avatar
    johnny ringo

    It would be interesting for someone to hold an extended test-say 20-30,000 miles-between a U.S. spec Fit and a Chinese built fit, and see how the two compare.

  • avatar
    Slab

    Are they assembled in China using the same parts as the cars assembled in Japan/Brazil/Indonesia etc? Or are the parts sourced from China? I wouldn’t want to be the beta tester for a car with Chinese parts.

    • 0 avatar
      WRohrl

      If you drive a car built within the last decade, more likely than not you already have a slew of Chinese parts in it.
      Sheesh the entire ENGINE from the original Chevy Equinox was built in China as is the gearbox in a current Mustang GT.

  • avatar
    icemilkcoffee

    FWIW, the first chinese car in North America is actually the CODA electric car, which is on sale now here in the US of A.

    • 0 avatar
      niky

      The ZAP Xebra beat it by a few years.

      As did the sand Reeper.

      Both barely classifiable as cars, but they are road legal.

      Electrovaya’s Maya proposal was based on the Channa Benni, but never saw the light of day. Heck, most of the EV startups that sprang up like mushrooms in 08 featured Chinese “gliders” (bodies).

  • avatar
    L'avventura

    Not sure why we’re discussing this. We’ve just discussed the Fit moving production to Mexico.

    http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2012/10/honda-to-send-mexica-fits-to-uk/

    Chinese car production for global export is a no-go. Honda tried selling the Chinese Fits/Jazz in Europe. No dice.

    Canada is an obvious test-case. Honda is testing the waters. The high Chinese immigrant population in Canada makes it ideal. Its a stop-gap until the Mexican factory comes online, and Chinese market is at overcapacity now.

    But the opportunity for cheap Chinese cars has passed. Chinese wages are now fairly high and consumers don’t seem to take well to it. For something as expensive as a car, ‘made in China’ has its risks, and China has not struck any free-trade pacts like Mexico and Thailand (meaning they are subject to higher tariffs).

    The investments for new automotive manufacturing growth seem to be flowing towards Mexico, Brazil, Thailand, and Indonesia. There also seems to be growth in Russia. Chinese production is becoming increasingly expensive and risky.

    The fact is, cars will be built as locally as possible. For the US cars will come from US, Mexican, or Canadian factories.

    • 0 avatar
      Tinker

      I bought a Mexican Mercury Mazda in 1989 (1989.5 Model Mercury TRACER / aka Mazda 323) Station Wagon. We drove it for 12 years and gave it to our son. The only complaint was concerning the 3 Speed auto transmission, that Ford specified instead of the 4 speed. Made highway travel Quite Loud and Very Irritating.

      The powertrain was completed in Japan, and shipped to Mexico, to be installed on a kit built body. I wish the 1997 Ford F-150 I bought had been made that way, the transmission crapped out at 40,000 miles. So Canadian Ford products assembled in Windsor were poorer quality than Mexican Mercurys at that time.

    • 0 avatar
      niky

      Thailand is just killing everyone else when it comes to new factory investments. Surprising, actually, that Honda doesn’t use Thai factories to make North American cars, since they’re already churning out LHD models too, besides the RHD models for domestic consumption.

      • 0 avatar
        Dimwit

        Honda was underwater not too long ago. It’s amazing that they’re up and running as well as they are without trying to export to NA. They wouldn’t have the capacity to service this market from Thailand anyway.

        It will be interesting to see if there’s a difference between the Chinese Fits and the Mexican. I could see the MY being discounted because of the Chinese aspect in years to come.


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