The Chinese Are Coming!

Bertel Schmitt
by Bertel Schmitt
the chinese are coming

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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3 of 19 comments
  • Superbadd75 Superbadd75 on Dec 21, 2009

    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!

  • Iamwho2k Iamwho2k on Dec 21, 2009

    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?

    • Charly Charly on Dec 21, 2009

      That little egg was sold in Britain in the 1960's. That is why it is allowed on the road. It would be if it was new

  • Inside Looking Out You should care. With GM will die America. All signs are there. How about the Arsenal of Democracy? Toyota?
  • DenverMike What else did anyone think, when GM was losing tens of billions a year, year after year?
  • Bill Wade GM says they're killing Android Auto and Apple Carplay. Any company that makes decisions like that is doomed to die.
  • Jeff S I don't believe gm will die but that it will continue to shrink in product and market share and it will probably be acquired by a foreign manufacturer. I doubt gm lacks funds as it did in 2008 and that they have more than enough cash at hand but gm will not expand as it did in the past and the emphasis is more on profitability and cutting costs to the bone. Making gm a more attractive takeover target and cut costs at the expense of more desirable and reliable products. At the time of Farago's article I was in favor of the Government bailout more to save jobs and suppliers but today I would not be in favor of the bailout. My opinions on gm have changed since 2008 and 2009 and now I really don't care if gm survives or not.
  • Kwik_Shift I was a GM fan boy until it ended in 2013 when I traded in my Avalanche to go over to Nissan.