By on November 20, 2009


The long-rumored Chinese invasion may be coming sooner than we expected. Automotive World reports that Chinese automaker Brilliance has signed letters of intent with 36 US dealers in preparation for a US market launch. According to the report, Brilliance intends to launch products in the US as soon as it acquires 100 dealers. Apparently Brilliance’s US distributor is targeting former Saturn dealers, Roger Penske’s US network, Hummer dealers and the Galpin group. Rumors are even swirling that Brilliance could buy the Saturn name to re-brand its US-market products.

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14 Comments on “Wild-Ass Rumor Of The Day: Brilliance Buying Dealers, Saturn Brand For US Launch?...”

  • avatar

    Wow, the Chinese are having a field day scooping up all the domestic failures of this country. They must all be laughing in the boardrooms at all the bargains.

  • avatar

    It’s way too soon, their cars are just not up to what we consider to be road worthy and reliable.  They will tank and make it way harder for all other Chinese car manufacturers that try to follow. 

    On the other hand, it will make Fiatsler look great!

  • avatar
    Cammy Corrigan

    Are Brilliance cars US compliant? GM can’t even bring the Vauxhall Agila (A.K.A Suzuki Wagon-R) to the US because it can’t meet crash requirements.

  • avatar

    They really should just buy up Saturn and strike a deal similar to the one Penske had planned up which would include GM producing a few models for them until they get theirs up to snuff for U.S. sales. It’s pretty damn sad, though, that GM has fallen so hard. Even worse, the fact that we’re picking up the tab just to keep them on life support. The American auto industry will never again be the same, and will never have the dominance that it once did, all because of arrogance and laziness.

  • avatar

    Galpin [Saturn Of N. Hills] is where I bought my ION. They’re also the largest Ford dealer in the country. Pretty ambitious plan.

  • avatar

    Why would they waste the money purchasing a thoroughly tarnished brand name like Saturn and dump more money into it to try and make it into something desirable?

    Propositioning former dealers makes sense, snagging the brand name does not.  They would be best off (and probably would) promote their own new brand name and growing that.   

  • avatar

    Brilliance cars look pretty nice actually, I can still get one through C4C right?

  • avatar

    The only question is when the Chinese will begin selling in the U.S. It’s not that far off, maybe 5 years at tops, maybe much sooner. With all of the foreign manufacturers in China the technology to produce vehicles acceptable to U.S. consumers is widely available.

    • 0 avatar

      I can remember people saying that Chinese cars will be in the US within five years… five years ago. It still hasn’t happened. However, I refuse to put a timeframe to it, as I think it is much closer than we think. If Brilliance, et al, can snag enough dealers, I think we’ll be seeing Chinese cars trolling the streets of the USA faster than anyone realizes. You just need that critical mass, the right mix of circumstances and folks will be lining up for their <$10K cars. 

  • avatar

    I am not one to dismiss the Chinese lightly, but “Brilliance buying Saturn” does sound a bit like an oxymoron.

  • avatar

    no problem, we’ll take their money. They can fail too.

  • avatar
    Daniel J. Stern

    It will be very interesting to see the interaction of Chinese automakers with U.S. auto safety regulations. Europe and most of the rest of the world’s auto markets work on a type-approval basis wherein autos and their regulated safety components have to be tested and approved in a lab accredited (directly or indirectly) by the government and then—and only then—the car or component is legal for sale onto the road. In the U.S. and Canada, we don’t have type approval for car safety. Instead, we have self-certification: the manufacturer certifies (i.e., states, asserts, promises…) that his car or component complies with all applicable provisions of all applicable safety standards. If cars and their occupants start breaking, there might be an investigation and then maybe a recall and fines…after the cars/parts are already on the road.
    Just about every automaker has had noncompliances found through investigations of this nature—some makers oftener than others. But many of those were inconsequential to safety (headlight lens markings set in text 2mm high instead of 3mm high, that kind of thing), and many of the others were inadvertent and limited in scope. It seems to me there might be reason to expect the Chinese to take a fingers-crossed-behind-their-backs view and approach of America’s “if you say it’s OK, we’ll believe you” car regulations. Consider: special holographic UL approval decals with a new design every few weeks didn’t have to be required on toasters, extension cords, hair dryers, and other electrical devices from Canada or Mexico or Germany or Brazil or Argentina or Australia or Japan, because counterfeit UL approval stickers weren’t showing up on products from those countries, only from China. Is it realistic to expect counterfeit auto parts (or those that don’t actually meet American safety standards) to go only into counterfeit name-brand parts boxes and not get installed as original equipment in Chinese cars?

  • avatar

    I think the most interesting aspect of this would be the Chinese dealings with potential U.S. unions.  They’re really not accustomed to strikes and threats and might not react well.

  • avatar
    Mr Carpenter

    I don’t think they’ll be building the cars in the USA with or without union labor, seschub. 

    The only time any union guys might see these cars is at the docks.  But Brilliance could be smarter than the average bear, and simply import them through low-wage Mexico, put up a cheap “factory” and add mud flaps, and a few do-dads in Mexico, then ship them across the border as “assembled in Mexico” through NAFTA. 

    In fact, one of Brilliance’s competitors, FAW, had plans to do JUST that (but were initially going to sell cars built in Mexico in Mexico and South/Central America, first).

    GM has no reason to sell the Saturn brand and set a competitor up, which is why I suspect they were relieved when the Penske deal fell apart.

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