By on November 23, 2011

Ask a Westerner what he or she thinks of Chinese cars, and the answer will be predictable: unsafe. Thanks to China’s slower crash test speeds and low-cost manufacturing, Chinese cars have largely not met global safety standards, and Youtube videos have long cemented the impression that Chinese cars are fundamentally unsafe. But as with any growing industry, the Chinese are stepping their game up. Far from a global embarrassment, the latest Geely Emgrand even earned four stars in Euro-NCAP testing. That’s not enough to erase China’s reputation for unsafe cars, as five star performances are rapidly becoming the standard in Europe. But it is enough to match the achievements of  other modern European cars, most notably the updated Fiat Panda. Though the Panda is considerably smaller than the Emgrand, and therefore is at something of a safety disadvantage, the price difference between the two cars is likely to be negligible, making the comparison quite interesting. Meanwhile, there are other four-star (or should we call it “Chinese Quality”?) cars in NCAP’s latest round of testing, including the considerably more expensive Jaguar XF and Jeep Grand Cherokee. Check out the reports for the XF, Panda and Emgrand in the gallery below, or surf on over to Autobild for more details on where these cars came up short on safety…

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13 Comments on “Are You Safer In A Geely Emgrand, A Fiat Panda, A Jeep Grand Cherokee Or A Jaguar XF?...”

  • avatar

    Perhaps Geely should call their new sled the “Engram EX”, since they’re trying so hard to erase the memories of past Chinese deathtraps.

  • avatar

    I can remember when the US view of Japanese cars went from a joke to a benchmark, IIRC it took about 20 yrs – maybe late 60s to late 80s. Korea followed a similar path perhaps in shorter time. I’m sure a lot of Chinese brands will do the same.

    I read the WSJ story about the Chinese hiring plenty of American styling studs also, that will be reflected in future products.

  • avatar

    I bet the safety improvements had a lot to do with Geely owning Volvo.

    • 0 avatar

      Maybe some of the very latest Geely’s will show that but these cars have been out for a while and wouldn’t reflect Volvo’s expertise. The truth is just that decent Chinese cars (like…the models that actually sell) haven’t been that bad in crash tests in recent years, the videos of horrible crash tests are all from a while back and I can find plenty of older american and japanese cars that do terribly on crash tests as well.

  • avatar

    I’m not sure there are any new cars still sold in the US or Europe that would earn less than four stars. Automotive safety has come a long way, no matter where it’s from…

  • avatar

    Japanese cars were a joke because they were hideous looking. Early on, they were unreliable and would rust from a good rain. But they were miserly, and that’s where there was a real demand for them. Their quality reputation emerged later. Japanese products in every category earned the reputation of quality.

    Chinese products are still mostly crap, often toxic, and their labor practices would never be tolerated in any developed country. But the world is addicted to hoarding lots of junk, so we mostly ignore it. Once China cleans up their act and build products with integrity and put an end to their government sanctioned slavery, they won’t have the advantage of cheap labor anymore.

    • 0 avatar

      Wait a second, if the Chinese products are crap, then why would anyone buy them over American products?

      Any sane person must recognize that there is no point in talking about quality without first setting a price point. Of course I can have the best electric kettle ever at $1,000,000 per piece. But hardly anyone would buy at that price point.

      From that, we can reach two conclusions:
      1) Don’t blame the competitor.
      If most electric kettles are sold at a price point of $10, and Chinese made ones dominate that segment. It only means that Chinese products are superior to American products in that segment, period.

      2) Don’t blame the consumers.
      If American manufactures can offer a better kettle at $50, but lose money because hardly anyone would spend $50 for a kettle, then they are as stupid as if anyone offers a $1M kettle. It’s an answer looking for a question (to put in a TTAC term).

  • avatar

    I’d still be more worried about build quality. Any car could be made to pass crash tests when new, but will the thing still be safe a few years down the road ? I’m sure the Hyundai Excel I once had was competitive on crash tests when tested, but at 4 years old there were so many mechanical failures and body rattles that it was like they’d crash tested my particular car. If a gearbox is failing after a few years, how can I trust a seatbelt bolt, brake lines or airbag wiring ?

    The race to produce cheaper cars will lead to corner cutting on quality which may only show up in longer term reliability. If a sill rusts through in 2 years because it wasn’t coated properly, then the car becomes more dangerous with each passing day.

    • 0 avatar

      Agree. That’s why I would never touch a domestic car. Yes, there is a whole lot of hypes for the new models, but I rarely hear any praise for a 10 year old domestic. If safety have the same longevity as other components in a car, you gotta stick with Toyota/Honda.

  • avatar

    Does this really surprise anyone? It’s only a matter of time before the Chinese start catching up in terms of safety.

    They probably won’t ever offer great dynamic driving cars but they will catch up in terms of emissions and safety.

    If nothing else, the Chinese are very ambitious and reputation is important to them.

  • avatar
    Educator(of teachers)Dan

    They’re coming…

  • avatar

    I’m a little surprised at GC. Wrangler, sure… Those easily removable doors ought to penalize the side-impact safety. But GC should be an equivalent of ML-class.

  • avatar

    Geely means business. We had a chance to check out the EmGrand and the Geely Panda at an autoshow, and I was impressed.

    They’ve improved to Korean levels of interior quality. Not Korean as in Ssangyong, but Korean as in Hyundai. Everything seems solid and the build quality is good.

    Not all Chinese cars are garbage. Geely and Haima make some good cars, though I’ve yet to sample Haima’s new generation vehicles… The Haima3 should be good for some laughs, because although it looks a little like a Mazda3, it’s actually based on a next-generation development of the Mazda Protege. And as Protege owners will tell you, that’s not necessarily a bad thing…

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