By on November 30, 2012

Of course Chinese cars are all craptastic patent violations on wobbly wheels. But then, the same had been said about Japanese and later Korean cars. Can Chinese carmakers repeat what Japan and Korea have done? J.D. Power thinks they are rapidly improving. 

“Chinese domestic brands have substantially narrowed the gap with international brands in overall vehicle appeal,” J.D. Power found in its 2012 China APEAL study.

However, if you look at the ranking supplied by J.D. Power, all you see is foreign joint ventures. China’s indigenous brands have an average APEAL score of 781 points, which is “an historic high for brands of Chinese automakers,” but not good enough to be listed. The industry average stands at 822 ;points, and all Chinese brands were found to be way below average. To spare the Chinese the embarrassment (and possibly to entice the Chinese brands to finally pay for the study,) the identities of the folks below average are not being disclosed by J.D. Power.

What’s above the line is vintage J.D Power: #1 Audi is a mere 6.2 percent better than #21 placed FAW-Mazda. If we are lucky, both are within the margin of error of the survey, especially of one conducted in China.

If J.D. Power tells us nothing, let’s consult the experts: You.

When will Chinese Cars catch up with the world?
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22 Comments on “Are Chinese Cars Catching Up With The World? Cast Your Vote...”

  • avatar

    I’m certain they will, sooner rather than later. I’d like to drive an example, or at least touch/feel one just to get a gauge on where they currently are.

  • avatar

    Not sure. The Chinese system is so corrupt that I have my reservations that the communist party will let a true free market system work. The japanese are real free marketers and know what their customers want. Not sure if the chinese can pull it off. Will have to see CR’s report/evaluation of their products along with some maintenance/reliability records.

    • 0 avatar


      It may be a mistake to consider China as “Communist” in anything like the traditional sense.
      It is a totalitarian oligarchy with a controlled, goverment-directed free-enterprise system.

      Be that as it may, I think China can come close to international car standards within 5 years, certainly within 10, if the world-wide economy cooperates.

      Perhaps “DaveinChina” can comment on all this more knowledgeably? Please.


      • 0 avatar

        “It may be a mistake to consider China as “Communist” in anything like the traditional sense. It is a totalitarian oligarchy with a controlled, goverment-directed free-enterprise system.”

        Chairman Mao couldn’t have said it better.

  • avatar

    I voted 20 years. This is based not on the pseudo-command economy v. free market system, but on societal priorities. Having spent a little bit of time in China, I think as a nation they’re a long way from prioritizing safety and quality because they don’t feel a responsibility to their customers to do so. Buying milk or personal care products that haven’t been tampered with or outright forged is still a challenge for the man on the street. There is much ground to cover to get to the point where manufacturers actually deliver a world-class level of safety because it is in the best interest of their fellow man.

    • 0 avatar

      This is why I voted “not in my lifetime”. It will take a couple generations of cultural revolution (pun intended) to ingrain the personal qualities and values needed to compete globally.

      However, the deep-seated need to ‘save face’ may work to their advantage, if doing so can be accomplished by producing a quality product rather than by cheating and concealment.

      My experience with Chinese mfg is that you can’t count on the supply chain staying intact. Material substitutions are rampant, and the repeatability of machine work is often substituted with handwork, because labor is plentiful. Customers who expect reliable products are seen as ‘demanding’, because it doesn’t bother them to play switcharoo with materials and processes as long as the end product approximates the original intent.

      Just try requesting a material spec sheet for something made there. My experience is this is nearly impossible to get.

      Just consider how long it took Hyundai to come around, without the limitations present in China.

  • avatar

    The only Chinese cars I’ve seen in person were at BYD’s booth at NAIAS. They were deplorable. The window frames on the doors look like they had been cut out by hand with a Dremel. The paint was a disgrace, with several different kinds of orange peel on the same car. And the interior made a Versa look like a luxury car in comparison.

  • avatar

    “To spare the Chinese the embarrassment (and possibly to entice the Chinese brands to finally pay for the study,) the identities of the folks below average are not being disclosed by J.D. Power.”

    This tells you all you need to know about the credibility of JD Powers. They are no better than the Motor Trend Car of the Year Award.

  • avatar

    No, because the basic fundamental pride of accomplishing something to a highest standard is not engraned in the Chinese. Stealing, cheating and dealing is more in line with the gambling-obsessed culture.

    • 0 avatar

      That sounds blatantly racist… Clearly from someone who hasn’t been to China.

      “Accomplishing something to a highest standard is not engraned (sic) in the Chinese.” Guess you haven’t seen Team China at the Olympics.

      “Stealing, cheating and dealing is more in line (more sic) with the gambling-obsessed culture”…

      And yes, in your mind, the Chinese all have squinty eyes, Fu Manchu mustaches, and wear cone shaped straw hats….

      Clearly, based on your command of spelling in English (which I presume is your mother tongue), mediocrity is not unique to the Chinese.

  • avatar

    As to Bertel’s original question: I don’t know about the cars, but based on your banner pic, their women sure have.

  • avatar

    I could see them coming like Yugos, from some importer. They would be priced very cheap, and turn out to be disasters.

    BTW The only Automatic transmission Chinsese-Engineered and Chinese Made is a 3-Speed. I don’t think that will float in the US, where people think a 4-speed is ancient history.

  • avatar

    The Chinese cars that I can see on brazilian roads are not up to brazilian standards, let alone those of the US or EU markets. I’m sure they’ll get there eventually, though.

    But if they plan to keep the price as their main selling point, then there’s only so much they can improve. They may be able to make better cars, but once prices get closer, will people buy them over more traditional brands produced elsewhere?

    I don’t think so. Not with Geely and Chery and the like. Perhaps the true chinese invasion will come when the main brands start to import cars from China. It is already acceptable to buy expensive electronics from China. There will be a day in the future when we’ll all be ok with buying a chinese BMW as well.

  • avatar

    It will come about when the brands either die or amalgamate. The ones left standing will be all the JV’s like FAW and SAIC. They understand quality, know good engineering and will have their designers up to speed because of their partners.

    These are the ones that will do well in the world market.

  • avatar

    I don’t know how many TTAC readers can rightfully comment on this matter, as Chinese car’s exposure is still next to nil in most places of the world. They certainly did not exist in the U.S. Here in Indonesia, they theoretically exist (a few brands only), and I can see them at auto shows and such, but not on the street, and did not know anybody who owns one. Nobody buys them! Certainly TTAC readers residing in China can comment, but how many are they? In what other countries do Chinese cars can be commonly seen?

    • 0 avatar


      Yeah, exactly.

      “Certainly TTAC readers residing in China can comment, but how many are they?”

      This is why I was hoping that “DaveinChna” (Shanghai) could / would comment.


  • avatar

    I chose 10 years, but I really think that it will happen by the end of this decade. The brands that actually register a worthwhile monthly sales figure are making great strides with each new model. In some cases, we are even seeing noticeable improvements from models that are simply getting a mid-cycle refresh. Of course, many lesser brands will never catch up, and fall by the wayside.
    The Chinese industry is very weak in the areas of marketing and customer service. However, the same companies that are getting serious about quality, are also the ones that are asking for help to improve their dealership experience. They’ve even involved our NADA. Maybe they’ll eventually figure out the marketing on their own.

  • avatar
    Volt 230

    I voted not in my lifetime, I just don’t think they’re able to make anything as good as the Japanese or even the Koreans, they would have to prove both initial quality and long term dependability

  • avatar

    I’d like to say not in my lifetime, but I am only 20, and as much as I don’t want to see this happen, it probably will one day. The success of those cars is another thing entirely….

    To me, looking at these Chinese cars and their blatant hackneyed styling rip-offs reminds me of someone buying a Dolex instead of a Rolex in Chinatown. Or a Miphone instead of an iphone.

    I’d like to think the American public aren’t that stupid, at least yet. We already have “Made in China” written all over 95% of the things we own. Why include our cars in that category?

    I can’t imagine a Chinese (and therefore probably corrupt) car company building anything of quality.

  • avatar

    I think they simply don’t want. I’ve been in a FAW Hongqi HQ3 and it has nothing to envy to a BMW 5 series. Maybe the problem is to find somebody willing to spend $35k in a chinese car

    And here in Perú there are very common and very cheap. But you get what you pay for. Most of them are coffins with wheels

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