When Autoblog was invited to one of those hurried and harried press conferences at the Shanghai Auto Show, and asked GM China president Bob Socia about car exports from China to America, they were told:
“It could very well happen. It could very well happen. You know, I’m not sharing any plans with you, but we try to keep open as to what makes sense … We’re open to be doing that. There’s no reason why we can’t be exporting to the States.”
We gave the matter short shrift. We know China-made Honda Fits are in Canada and elsewhere without giving people fits. Also, we have been following GM China’s export activities for many years. GM started exporting the Sail from China in 2010, making it “the first time a world-class automaker will export from China a model it developed in the country,” as the Nikkei said. Actually, it was GM that got China’s heretofore sputtering auto export machine going.
For some folks, like Chris Butler at the Franklin Center’s Watchdog site for Tennessee, GM’s exports from China were new. Butler called GM and asked whether China will become an export base for the General: He reached spokesman Greg Martin, who said:
“There will be no exports of these cars built in China. Cars that are built in China are sold in China.” (Read More…)
For years now the Chinese automakers have been the bête noir of the global car industry, inspiring equal parts fear and contempt in boardrooms and editorial meetings from Detroit to Stuttgart. In an industry built on scale, China’s huge population and rapid growth can not be ignored as one scans the horizon for dark horse competitors. And yet no Chinese automaker has yet been able to get even a firm toehold in the market China recently passed as the world’s largest: the United States.
Certainly many have tried, as the last decade is littered with companies who have tried to import Chinese vehicles, only to go out of business or radically rethink their strategy (think Zap for the former and Miles/CODA for the latter). Others, like BYD (or India’s Mahindra), have teased America endlessly with big promises of low costs and high efficiency, only to delay launch dates endlessly. In short, a huge gulf has emerged between overblown fears of developing world (particularly Chinese) auto imports and the ability of Chinese automakers to actually deliver anything. No wonder then, that we found what appears to be the first legitimate attempt at importing Chinese cars to the US quite by accident…
You take some of my rescued state-owned automaker, and I’ll take some of yours. That seems to be the cunning plan cooked up by presidents Putin and Sarkozy, as the two face the prospect of rescuing struggling firms in the midst of a weak European market. And actually, it seems that the idea was really Putin’s. French-owned automaker Renault is “more than happy” with its 25 percent stake in the moribund Russian automaker AvtoVAZ, reports Bloomberg, but Russia is offering to buy 15 percent of the French firm if France in turn takes on more AvtoVAZ equity. Considering that Reanult paid $1b for 25 percent of a firm that has been kept alive only by government intervention, a closer embrace of VAZ does not seem advisable. Nor, frankly, does any form of “Franco-Russian Leyland” sound like a good idea.