Chinese Bears on the Loose in Europe
China’s Greatwall is apparently hell-bent on selling their Coolbear MPV in Europe next year. China Car Times reports that Greatwall has received the ECE Whole Vehicle Type Approval (WVTA,) awarded by the UK Vehicle Certification Agency (VCA.) The WVTA testing covers 48 different tests; 13 on active safety, 13 on passive safety and 8 on emissions and environmental protection. Passing the test makes the Coolbear legal to sell all over Europe and in any and all countries that accept the ECE regimen.
With the VCA, Greatwall has chosen one of the more, well, lenient testing organizations. Others are said to be more rigorous. As our resident ECE-guru Daniel Stern and Wikipedia will likewise confirm, “when an item is type approved for a regulation by one participating country, then the approval is accepted by all other participating countries.” And so, the Coolbear will be let out of his cage and can go ravaging the markets that acceded to the WVTA protocol.
The Coolbear has received massive styling cues from Japanese boxes-on-wheels, namely the Nissan Cube and the Toyota Scion. Thetycho China Automotive Consultancy actually went so far as to state that “the modeling for the Cool Bear was done by a Toyota Scion B, Great Wall did change a few parts however, most noticeable the logo and headlights.”
I am fairly certain that all of the parts behind the front clip on the Greatwall Coolbear and the previous generation Toyota bB/Scion xB are completely interchangeable. A door or the rear hatch of a bB/xB could be bolted directly onto the Coolbear, or vice versa. This is fine in China, but could likely become a serious export issue. Also, even when welded together by Japanese robots the previous generation bB/xB wasn't that safe of a car, so the Coolbear, a previous generation bB/xB put together by Chinese peasants with stick welders, is inherently not going to be a safe car.
re: porschespeed Theirin lies the rub. I have no doubt that the joint ventures and some of the stand alone chinese manufacturers are using German or Japanese robotic equipment for the automated assembly of very high quality car bodies/bodies in white. But that undermines China's traditional "our labor is cheaper than your machines" advantage over the West. Machines basically cost the same to run anywhere (other than the cost of the land they are on and the advantage of lax environmental laws), so they should probably be set up close to the consumer, especially since future energy costs will drive up logistics costs, instead of in a far away cheap labor country. The pot metal twist was rather good.
Wow, after the Peri/Panda debacle here comes Great Wall Motors again...