By on March 26, 2011

JAC do Brasil has officially announced the result of their first full week of sales. A surprising 1,139 Chinese cars changed hands! According to Brazilian car mag Quatro-Rodas, the company’s President in Brazil, Sérgio Habib, who had expected sales of 3,000 cars in April, is now saying, “Judging by our first week, we can now project more than 4,500 units.” Mr. Habib is well-known in Brazilian auto biz circles. He was responsible for Citroën’s successful launch in Brazil back in the 90s. So his opinion carries weight.

Differently from other Chinese companies that have taken a slow, but steady approach in Brazil, JAC (a.k.a. Jianghuai Automobile Co) has been very aggressive. Their launch was quite explosive and had multimillionaire flair. On March 18, which they smartly called J-Day, JAC inaugurated 50 dealerships across the country simultaneously. It also hired as its face the well-known TV variety show presenter Fausto Silva. Rumor has it he won’t get out of bed if you don’t feed him a fee in excess of a few million. The fact was that this week you couldn’t turn on the TV without seeing said presenter’s mug hawking on and on about these spectacular cars.

Being the curious enthusiast I am, I bit the bait. I headed on down to my friendly local dealer. It was Wednesday afternoon. Surprisingly, there were other customers there. Unsurprisingly, most, I thought, were just curious, too and were just checking the cars out. I saw no one haggling final price. Granted, it was a weekday, but I spent about half an hour there and did not see a single car sold.

How about the cars? Well, for now JAC is selling a J3 in two variations. One simply called J3 in sedan form and a hatch called J3 Turin (as both were designed there). As I approached the car a salesman came running, all toothy smiley. The first word out of his mouth was quality. Humm, they really are trying to address Brazilians main concern about cars with a Chinese provenance. The design seemed good enough. Not terribly sophisticated, but not behind the times either. Inside there were some touches of originality.

As the salesman blabbered on and on, quality, quality, quality, I took a closer look. The bumpers were misaligned, as were the passenger doors and back hatch (I know these are notoriously difficult to mount and I was looking for trouble, but still). Slightly but undeniably sloppy workmanship. Inside though it was worse. Plastics had some unfinished surfaces. There were huge gaps were the steering wheel disappears into the dash. Smaller gaps around the side ventilation slots. Now, the clincher. The stitching on the seats was really, really bad. Not sloppy, but bad. As in zig-zaguingly bad. I pulled on the mouse fur covering the wheel well; it almost came out in my hand.

I got out of the car. The salesman was still blabbering his happy mantra. I said nothing. I just started pointing out the defects with my finger. Poor man, his face got redder and redder. Obviously he had not been trained as how to deal with a “difficult” customer. He had been trained to talk like a parrot and that’s what he did. He had no arguments. JAC either needs to train its guys better. Or simply make better cars.  Though most Brazilian consumers are not very demanding, there are those who are.

And those who are will take a pass for now. For those other fooled by the parrots on TV and at the dealer, good luck to you. I sincerely hope you’ll be happy. God knows our market needs a shake-up. Hyundai has been doing it at the higher end. Could JAC be doing it at the lower end?

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16 Comments on “JAC do Brasil: The Chinese Really, Really Have Landed...”

  • avatar

    This is how it begins.  Time will tell, if a $23,000 car from JAC Motors will be successful and last out its 6 year warranty.  According to the review below, it has 1.4 with VVT.

  • avatar

    Bertel, they’re going with JAC as Jianghuai is very difficult to pronounce in Portuguese. Probably most people would pronounce it jee-un-who-i or jee-un-oo-i. Is that even remotley close to Chinese. How big is JAC in CHina?

  • avatar

    Though most Brazilian consumers are not very demanding, there are those who are.
    Ditto, I have seen some very nasty defects in new cars I wouldn’t have accepted. Also I don’t like to hear the water splashing in the floorpan because the isolation was beancounted.
    But you go to the stealership, got us hot and… no price, no context (comparison with say, a old Uno) to see why that people sold so many cars in 1 week.

    • 0 avatar

      I think reason for this are threefold:

      1 – Celebrity backing
      2 – No optional equipment is added to price, the ones most sought after are standard – AC, power steering and windows (which can quickly double cars price in Brazil)
      3 – Media buzz

      I guess either it’ll die down or if a hit, will force people to check pricing (my hope). This car is Stilo or Astra sized and competes with complete (complete means having equipment mentioned above) Palios, Sienas, Corsas, Gols, Voyages, Logans, Sanderos, etc. or basic Puntos, Ideas, Polos,etc.

      Maybe I commited a slip of tongue. It will compete in middle to low sections of market. Not the absolute bottom rung, where the competitors are the small cars mentioned above in standard (which means absolutely stark naked, nothing) equipment.

      Hope this helped.

    • 0 avatar

      It helped. A loaded C segment at B prices. Let’s see how the cars behave in the market and aftersales service.
      If quality is not there, and I don’t mean the details you mentioned, but hard stuff like engines, clutches and gearboxes, word will spread quick. If the support is not there, good luck.
      Great Wall is also here selling utes (pick ups). they undercut Hilux, Triton (Mitsu), Colorado, Ranger… by at least 10K. However I see very very few of them on the roads.

  • avatar

    Why are smaller Chinese companies like JAC and Great Wall pushing exports?  Will that help them avoid the coming consolidation of Chinese automakers?

  • avatar

    JAC landed in Lebanon last year, i didn’t even bother go to the gala as i had wasted enough time in 2010 on the Brilliance launch.
    almost a year after both launched, i have only seen 3 brilliance on the road and 2 JAC, and i drive by the latter’s service department 5 times a week.

  • avatar

    Looks like JAC had a relatively successful launch in Madagascar last year…?
    JAC models are being assembled in Ethiopia under the brand Holland Car:
    Also looks like JAC is enjoying relative success in Laos:
    A real export push!

  • avatar

    Official figures from Fenavabre for March 2011 are here and JAC’s official March sales stand at 455 (in 10 working days):
    324 for the JAC J3 (ranking #100). It’s the best selling Chinese passenger car this month, ahead of the Chery Face. It ranks 3rd best selling Chinese vehicle behind the Hafei Ruiyi and Hafei Towner. It could break into the Top 50 next month
    131 for the JAC J3 Turin
    You can check out the Top 100 best selling models in Brazil in March 2011 here:

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