(Not) Coming To America: China's Best-selling Automaker Fingers Trump for Decision to Avoid U.S.

Matt Posky
by Matt Posky
not coming to america china s best selling automaker fingers trump for decision to

SAIC Motor, China’s largest state-owned automotive manufacturer, is canceling its plans to export vehicles into North America. Likely fearful of the current administration’s trade proposals, SAIC is blaming President Donald Trump for its hesitation to enter the Western market.

Of course, the Chinese automaker isn’t ruling anything out entirely. Michael Yang, the executive director of SAIC’s international division, explained at the Shanghai motor show that the company might resume its plans for U.S. expansion once trade tensions ease between the two countries. As the Trump administration hasn’t exactly celebrated the idea of imported goods and foreign manufacturing, it could be a long wait. In the meantime, SAIC Motor will be focusing its efforts on the European market.

Despite President Trump having softened his stance on Chinese trade in the recent months, much of his campaign rhetoric accused the country of unfair trade practices, and he has threatened to implement stiff tariffs on imported products. The current atmosphere isn’t ideal for SAIC — or any Chinese carmaker — to rush headlong into America. “Eventually we aim to have all, but at the moment we are focusing on [China and then Europe],” Yang said. “The reason is the ‘climate change’ after the new presidency.”

The changing of the guard hasn’t kept other automakers from testing the waters, however. According to Bloomberg, Guangzhou Automobile Group is continuing its plan to establish a research center in the United States in order to conduct a preliminary study of the North American market. Yu Jun, the general manager of the company’s Trumpchi subsidiary, announced at the Shanghai show that his company anticipates entering the U.S. no later than 2019.

“Trumpchi’s goal is to become a world-class Chinese brand,” said Yu. “And we would like to make our research, production and sales global.”

That seems overly ambitious.

While Geely has managed to enter the West indirectly via its purchasing of Volvo, and might eventually rollout its Lynk & Co branded vehicles, other Chinese automakers have been spinning their wheels. BYD has been making appearances at American automotive shows for years under a similar premise without making any real headway.

It would seem that corporate partnerships are the best way to ease into the States, and many of those already exist. Guangzhou already has an alliance with Fiat Chrysler and SAIC’s limited partnership with General Motors is the only way it can legally sell Chevrolet, Buick, and Cadillac models in mainland China. That cooperation is also how the Chinese-built Buick Envision has made its way to Western shores.

It looks as if SAIC has made it into North America already.

[Image: SAIC Motor]

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  • Gtem Gtem on Apr 20, 2017

    They could always come in and partner with a US manufacturer to set up local production, you know, exactly how the Chinese deal with any car maker that wants to sell there (or else deal with crazy tariffs). GMs are chock full of Chinese components already, I suppose this is the natural progression of things. The Chinese made some decent inroads in the Russian market, ultimately they had more success in the commercial large vehicle market (dump trucks, cab over engine delivery type trucks, buses). The first few years of Chinese cars were abysmal: crazy rust within 3-4 years, interior/exterior trim failing, headlights discoloring, etc. The powertrains are generally okay (tried and true Mitsubishi and Toyota 4cyl knockoffs from 20 years ago). "Great Wall" Hilux pickup knockoffs got a decent amount of traction, and the Great Wall Hover series (Isuzu Axiom chassis knockoff, Mitsubish 2.4L gas engines, front styling like a Land Cruiser Prado) are considered to be decent bang for the buck, reliability is a middle ground between Russian makers and foreign ones (Japanese/Korean/etc).

    • Art Vandelay Art Vandelay on Apr 20, 2017

      I like this, but what is the incentive for the American maker. China does this to allow for the Chinese company to gain access to the "partner's" intellectual property and methods thus improving the Chinese company in the long game. If the US makers want to build cars compatible to the Chinese they need only dust off the blueprints from some of those malaise specials.

  • Ad Ad on Apr 20, 2017

    This lot are only slightly more dishonest than "The Phoenix Four" who sold them MG during a drinking session and BMW before that. I have seen approximately three (that's between two and five) "Modern Gentlemans" on the road and they all looked shit. Even low price couldn't pursuade buyers here. They partially assembled a few in the old Rover Longbridge plant in order to say that if they were good enough to be made in the UK then they're good enough for you in China. I think they have a joint venture with GM so you'll be getting some bits of them anyway in a Buick. Before you laugh remember they are coming. There was nearly 25 years between the first Toyota Crown sold in the USA and the first Camry. Compared to them, the Japanese are impatient. That's a Donald Fact.

  • SCE to AUX I charge at home 99% of the time, on a Level 2 charger I installed myself in 2012 for my Leaf. My house is 1967, 150-Amp service, gas dryer and furnace; everything else is electric with no problems. I switched from gas HW to electric HW last year, when my 18-year-old tank finally failed.I charge at a for-pay station maybe a couple times a year.I don't travel more than an hour each way in my Ioniq 1 EV, so I don't deal much with public chargers. Despite a big electric rate increase this year, my car remains ridiculously cheap to operate.
  • ToolGuy 38:25 to 45:40 -- Let's all wait around for the stupid ugly helicopter. 😉The wheels and tires are cool, as in a) carbon fiber is a structural element not decoration and b) they have some sidewall.Also like the automatic fuel adjustment (gasoline vs. ethanol).(Anyone know why it's more powerful on E85? Huh? Huh?)
  • Ja-GTI So, seems like you have to own a house before you can own a BEV.
  • Kwik_Shift Good thing for fossil fuels to keep the EVs going.
  • Carlson Fan Meh, never cared for this car because I was never a big fan of the Gen 1 Camaro. The Gen 1 Firebird looked better inside and out and you could get it with the 400.The Gen 2 for my eyes was peak Camaro as far as styling w/those sexy split bumpers! They should have modeled the 6th Gen after that.