By on November 16, 2017

There’s a Land Rover clone — or is it a Land Cruiser clone — coming our way. Built in a low-cost country where the principle of “just good enough” has held sway ever since the Communists took over, it’s cheap, rugged-looking, and certain to feed aggressively on the bottom of the SUV-buyer ocean. You might not like the idea of supporting an oppressive regime, and you might not like the idea of trusting your life to something that was slapped together in a hurry, but other people aren’t as smart and discerning as you are and they will ensure that the new product is a roaring success.

Oh, I’m not talking about the Trumpchi. I’m reading automotive history circa 2003. What, you don’t remember the CrossLander? Well, my friend, you are in for a treat — one that has a surprising amount of relevance to China’s entry to the American auto market.


It seemed like a can’t-miss idea. The Romanian ARO was a vaguely-drawn LR Defender copy that was built both in Europe and in South America. The parts were cheap, the content was low, and the two potential manufacturing sites — Brazil and Romania — were both chock-full of people willing to work for the exchange-adjusted rate of pennies per hour.

The American distributors announced a price of under $20,000 at a time when people were still cheerfully paying $29,500 for Explorer XLTs that were nothing but 1982 Ford Rangers with a nose job up front and a cap out back. It was also an era where customers were not terribly discerning regarding the quality or provenance of their SUVs. (For more details, fire up DuckDuckGo and look for “Acura SLX.”)

The “CrossLander” should have been a massive success. There was certainly quite a bit of dealer interest. Several purpose-built CrossLander stores popped up well in advance of the product, including one about six miles from my house in Ohio. Much of the smart money got behind it early.

So why isn’t there a CrossLander on every corner nowadays? Well, some of the principals were apparently a bit shady, and nobody ever really nailed down the myriad of issues that would have to be tackled in order for a Romanian factory to produce DOT-approved vehicles. In the end CrossLander, like Swedish Charles, left a name at which the world grew pale — but not for long.

Fourteen years later, we’re tying ourselves up in knots about this Trumpchi Land Cruiser clone. Relax. It’s not going to do any better than the CrossLander did, and I’ll tell you why.

The first reason is price. If you’ve spent any time browsing the various fly-by-night operations that sell Chinese-made motorcycles and ATVs, you know that the going rate for a Chinese 125cc dirt bike is between 25 and 40 percent of what you’d pay for a similar Yamaha or Honda. Applying the same math to the Trumpchi and, say, the Nissan Armada would give you a sticker price of between 15 and 25 grand.

I think the Trumpchi truck could set the market on fire at $14,999, but they won’t be able to get close to that price because the rules governing automobiles in this country are vastly different from the legislative vacuum around off-road motorcycle dealers. Those no-name 125cc bikes are sent by the crate and sold with no expectation of anything after the transaction. By contrast, automakers doing business in the USA are hamstrung by everything from environmental impact statements to a requirement that they maintain parts availability for a decade after the last example of a particular model rolls into a showroom. They have to advertise, market, lobby, and engage in public-relations campaigns. All of that stuff costs real money.

It gets worse. If you’re selling a new car in 2018, you need to have a full complement of active and passive safety equipment beyond what is required anywhere else in the world. It’s expensive equipment and some of it needs to be sourced from a very short list of Tier 1 suppliers. The alert among you have no doubt noticed that the Nissan Versa with automatic transmission now costs well over 14 grand. It’s made in Mexico, where labor costs are actually lower than that of China, but it’s still relatively expensive because it has to have everything from side airbags to stability control. Think about that for a minute. A Chinese Versa might cost more. And it would have less than two-thirds of the raw materials involved in the Trumpchi SUV.

The time for the Chinese to enter the car market was back when the cost of a car was determined by raw materials and labor. That was when the Japanese did it. The Accord used to be cheaper than a Citation — at least at MSRP. But today’s costs are determined by regulations and an ever-growing list of previously-optional equipment.

None of that matters, of course, if you are willing to sell at a loss long enough to establish an impregnable beachhead on the market. Some of TTAC’s readers will bristle at this, but I’d suggest that such a strategy would have worked under President Obama much better than it will work under his successor. Any large-scale home-brand Chinese sales effort in this country is going to be closely watched for even the appearance of product dumping. The current administration is willing to fight the battle on aluminum foil, so I suspect they’ll fight it on cars.

I’m also sure that some of the industry’s armchair analysts will disagree with me on what I’m about to say, but I’ve actually seen real costs for automotive production and they haven’t, so there. I believe that the manufacturing costs of a Chinese-branded SUV can’t be significantly lower than what Buick is paying to have the Envision built. While the Chinese makers won’t have the legacy costs that have attached themselves to “New GM,” they also don’t have an established distribution network for parts or a massive dealer infrastructure in place already, so it seems unlikely that a Trumpchi Envision could be any cheaper than a Buick Envision.

Without a measurable price advantage, how would a Chinese automaker get around the public-image disaster that is chabuduo? The answer is that they cannot, and will not. It will be a long time before Chinese-branded automobiles make any significant dent in our marketplace. The auto business is not the television business or the Harbor-Freight-level tool business or even the smartphone business. The barriers to entry are massive and people are more worried about quality and durability than they are with a smartphone.

I’m typing this on a Chinese-made laptop that I expect to throw away within 12 months, but when I’m done I will drive to lunch in an American-made Honda that I’ve owned for more than three-and-a-half trouble-free years and expect to own for at least five more trouble-free years. The difference between expectations for consumer products and the expectations for automobiles is real and it is spectacular.

So much for Chinese-branded cars. But that doesn’t mean that you won’t see more and more Chinese cars in this country, because the same math that works against Trumpchi works in Volvo’s favor. The whole idea behind products like the S90 and the Buick Envision is that you make a couple grand extra on each unit, you multiply that by millions of units, and then the executives who made the decision to build in China take their golden parachutes before the customer gets wise to the bait-and-switch.

At the end of the day, you’ve damaged your brand and decimated your customer base, but the only people who think past next year in the auto business work in Japan and that country is about to disappear up its own childless nose.

When the electric horizon finally arrives, there will be another chance for Chinese brands to make an entry into the country. I have no idea if they’ll succeed. I hope to be securely stored underground in a rosewood coffin before that day arrives. In the meantime between-time, though, you don’t need to worry about Trumpchi or any other Chinese brands making headway here. All you have to worry about is the VIN on your Volvo. If it starts with “L,” it’s Chinese. If you’re cool with that, then by all means, don’t let me stop you.

The future of automobiles, to re-coin a phrase, it’s already here. It’s just unevenly distributed.

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92 Comments on “No Fixed Abode: How the Chinese Missed Their Window of Opportunity (but Will Come in Your Back Door Anyway)...”


  • avatar
    gtem

    On a related note, back in the 90s where was an effort to bring in Soviet-designed UAZ 469s and 452s, and to even swap in Buick 3800s instead of the wheezy carbureted OHV 2.5L Volga mills that they came with from Ulyanovsk.

    https://youtu.be/FFJ-3evD2XM

    • 0 avatar
      PrincipalDan

      Torque-rich V6 would have made that nice.

      • 0 avatar
        gtem

        Oh yeah. They tinkered with some finicky imported diesel mills, and more modern UAZes got fuel injected Volga 4cyl engines (horribly unreliable) with about 130hp. A good old cast iron lump of American V6, hopefully still tied to a stick shift trans, would have worked well in those. I’d worry however that the Buick motor’s torque would manifest itself in a weak link elsewhere in the drivetrain. The key to an UAZ’s driveline durability (what little it has) is much like older Toyota 4wds: they don’t make enough power to hurt anything.

    • 0 avatar
      Guitar man

      You know that a Land Rover was actually a copy of a Jeep don’t you ? Apparently not..

  • avatar
    FreedMike

    “The auto business is not the television business or the Harbor-Freight-level tool business or even the smartphone business. The barriers to entry are massive and people are more worried about quality and durability than they are with a smartphone.”

    Yep, this.

    It’ll all depend on quality. If the Chinese send us junk, it’ll be a long, long slog for market acceptance for them.

    But don’t fool yourself – it’s just a matter of time before we end up with Chinese makes here. And if Trump can successfully force the Chinese to import our stuff for a semblance of parity – and that could be direct imports, or building American designs over there – I’d be perfectly OK with that.

    (Now, this assumes that this guy can take his head out of his a**, and actually accomplish something besides acting like a tween on Twitter, so whether this happens or not is anyone’s guess.)

    By the way, anyone have any quality/dependability stats on the Envision yet, by chance?

    • 0 avatar
      geozinger

      I don’t know about us getting many of the Chinese mfrs here in North America. I remember people worrying about this 10-12 years ago. Here we are all this time later and what have there been? Three models, total?

      I agree with Jack, that the US regulatory ladder is a steep one with many rungs. The best way I see to get over it is a mountain of money and some time. Like others, it wouldn’t be surprising if a Chinese maker merged with FCA to gain entry to this market. But for the reasons Jack implied, the cost of the vehicle may not be the bargain people are expecting. One thing that BAFO is right about is our regulatory structure. It is our wall…

      I don’t think we’re going to see any ‘miracles’ like the original Hyundai Excel or the Yugo like we did ~ 30 years ago…

      • 0 avatar
        FreedMike

        I think it’s inevitable that we see Chinese brands here. It’s just a matter of when, and whether they introduce themselves, or buy an American carmaker (cough…FCA…ahem…).

        • 0 avatar
          Toad

          Chinese vehicles will be coming to a showroom near you, but re-badged with names you already know at local dealerships. The big three re-badged Japanese cars in the 1980’s with some success and there is little preventing us from seeing the same movie with different actors in the near future.

          …or a Chinese manufacturer(s) just buy up FCA. It would be far cheaper than setting up a whole new dealership and distribution network.

      • 0 avatar
        Lou_BC

        @geozinger – legislated engineered safety and emissions standards do act as an effective barrier to trade and I’m all for it.

    • 0 avatar
      namstrap

      A friend of mine in the GM parts business (no names) hinted that interior trim fails are common.

  • avatar
    PrincipalDan

    I’d be happy with Toyota bringing us a de-contented Land Cruiser priced in Tahoe territory, but I digress.

    Good point on the Versa – I have payed attention to the price of one since they were advertising them as $9,999 specials.

    We have Chinese built cars here, I’m just waiting to see if there some “weird” recall on Envisions. Something in the realm of “WTF” like wheels falling off or something.

    I know that Chinese branded cars will happen in my lifetime – but I just turned 40.

    • 0 avatar
      FreedMike

      If you want to talk yourself out of a Versa, just drive one.

      Do yourself a favor…buy something used instead. Or a Chevy Spark.

      • 0 avatar
        PrincipalDan

        I never WANTED one – I was just catching the IN YOUR FACE advertising that was going on by Nissan dealers when the 1st gen was released.

        • 0 avatar
          FreedMike

          I think you can still buy one for around ten grand…and kick yourself every day for not spending a grand more on a used Focus.

          The Versa is just an awful car. Awful to look at, awful to sit in, and even more awful to drive.

          • 0 avatar
            gtem

            I find them endearing in a “third world taxi” kind of way. Really basic, but with a huge rear seat and trunk. Paired with the 5spd, it’s a fun little runabout that can swallow up a pothole with surprising ease. Again, think third world taxi. A Spark has less power, and nowhere near as much room. A Versa can fairly comfortably fit 4 adults and their luggage, not many other subcompacts can claim to do the same.

          • 0 avatar
            FreedMike

            I found no fun whatsoever in driving a Versa, but to each his own.

            I do think it’d be a good super-cheap in-town runabout, though. And that’d be a good thing, because driving it at any speed over 45 is incredibly unpleasant.

            If nothing else, there aren’t many accessories to fail. And you have a big back seat that people will want to exit as soon as possible.

            But, man…the thought of being stuck driving that for four or five years until the note’s paid off is DEPRESSING.

            Give me a Spark or something used.

    • 0 avatar
      deanst

      If Ford can thrive with their steering wheels falling off, I’m sure the Chinese brands have no reason to worry!

    • 0 avatar
      28-Cars-Later

      Happy Birthday.

    • 0 avatar
      baconator

      I’ve rented several BYD models overseas and driven them in the abusive way that one drives rental cars Their fit, finish, and NVH seem to be on par with Nissans and Fiats. I don’t see any reason why they couldn’t get market traction here at a bargain price point.

  • avatar
    ajla

    I still think a GAC/FCA ‘merger of equals’ is on the horizon and the current Trumpchi vehicles will just be rebadged as Dodges and shipped over.

    • 0 avatar
      FreedMike

      I’d have to think it’d be some Chinese company, for sure.

      But I wouldn’t rule out PSA. They’re strong where FCA is weak (small cars/midsizers), and FCA has a strong CUV/truck line, so their product lines would actually dovetail quite nicely.

      Either way, I’d argue it has to be a large carmaker with no U.S. dealer/supplier presence.

      • 0 avatar
        ajla

        I think GAC-FCA is a perfect match. FCA gets to not be bankrupt while the Chinese get Jeep, a US distribution network, and a well-known domestic brand with literally no new product to dump the Trumpchis into.

        The president can be pacified by opening a new factory in a swing state and moving more RAM production to the US.

        A few years down the line they can dump Fiat, Maserati, and Alfa onto the Italian government or PSA or Ferrari.

        • 0 avatar
          FreedMike

          I’d keep Fiat/Maserati/Alfa if I were GAC. It gives them a European presence.

        • 0 avatar
          DeadWeight

          Sterling Heights Assembly Plant in Sterling Heights, Michigan, was just retooled by FCA at a cost of 1.4 billion dollars to produce the 2018 RAM.

          The current RAM will continue to be produced at the Mound Road, Warren Assembly Plant (“Dodge City”).

          Jack is absolutely wrong in both his analysis and conclusion; Chinese-branded vehicles, whether made in the U.S., China (Envision, Cadillac CT6 PHEV, etc.),’Mexico, Latvia, Brazil, Canada, or Turkey will obtain a full’10% of U.S. market share by 2030, and once over the 10% market share hump, will then continue on to become the largest constituent share of passenger vehicles on U.S. roads in a relatively short time.

          The Chinese have stolen so much intellectual and manufacturing knowledge via their government mandated Joint Venture Partner system (where short-sighted U.S. and European vehicle manufactures, eager to exploit cheap Chinese labor, lax environmental and other non-existent regulations, and other incentives, bought in greedily) that they literally are now at parity in terms of manufacturing prowess and technology, whether we’re speaking of ICE or electric vehicles, should they choose to up their game in terms of actually spending the capital to build U.S. and European worthy vehicles (the only thing holding them back is trade issues and perception, both of which can and will change, as the corporations bringing jobs will inherit the earth and be lauded and heralded by politicians).

          The mandated Joint Venture Partner program, a great example of which is GM being forced to gives 50 years worth of knowledge to Shanghai Automotive (SAIC), was a stroke of genius by the Chinese Central Planners; it allowed SAIC, and other companies like Great Wall, Chery, GAC, and others, to go from 1967-era knowledge base, to a 2017-era knowledge base, in 17 years flat.

          • 0 avatar
            DeadWeight

            Also, Americans, are, writ large, morons, and will be buying plenty of Chinese company vehicles without even knowing it or giving 2 f*cks, as marketing will work it’s magic, hence Exhibit A

            Really Patriotic and family-oriented Buick Invasion CUV (made in China, with 88% Chinese parts-content) advertisement that has a white bread, solidly middle class couple and their cute baby with difficulty falling asleep:

            https://www.ispot.tv/ad/AJ2E/2016-buick-envision-holidays-2016-baby-monitor

            And in in reality, the long arc of trade and economic history, when dealing with things such as comparative advantage, especially since 2000, will increasingly trend this way:

            http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=pKv6RcXa2UI

            By the way, check out this

          • 0 avatar
            Gene B

            Hard to realize or understand unless you have been there, the Chinese have higher quality standards and higher consumer expectations than we do. The game has moved on. They sell 3x as many Mercedes as are sold here. They no longer make junk unless US importers want to unload it in our Dollar stores. They took our IP and are now surpassing it as we are hooked on Opiates and on Candy Crush. You will never be presented the truth as long as you are brainwashed by American media, movies and TV shows.

          • 0 avatar
            Steve65

            ” the Chinese have higher quality standards and higher consumer expectations than we do…”

            You seem to have extrapolated out the tiny (%) Chinese Upper Middle class and Nouveau Riche as representative of the entire population. And citing their consumption of foreign-built luxury goods as an indicator of domestic build quality expectations points rather the opposite direction than what you seem to have intended.

          • 0 avatar
            Flipper35

            Someone needs to explain whey the apartment dwellers there have crap for homes.

            I am sure the cars will look nice and drive nice when they get here. I wouldn’t doubt that they will have companies go belly up after a couple years and a new one takes its place just so they don’t have to keep 10 years of parts around.

            This is a country that had fake fireworks for the Olympics and they invented fireworks.

          • 0 avatar
            Luke42

            “You seem to have extrapolated out the tiny (%) Chinese Upper Middle class and Nouveau Riche as representative of the entire population. And citing their consumption of foreign-built luxury goods as an indicator of domestic build quality expectations points rather the opposite direction than what you seem to have intended.”

            Doesn’t matter.

            The richest 20% of China has more people then the entire United States, and my intuition is that their buying power is comparable.

            You can decide not to serve 80% of the Chinese market and still sell a lot of stuff.

            Would pretending that the other billion people don’t exist be ethically dubious and allow you to be blindsided? Of course. This is just a tale to explain how enormous China really is. And now that we’ve pulled out of TPP and given them room to build The New Silk Road without our involvement, they’re calling the shots.

  • avatar
    Arthur Dailey

    Interesting article. However there are a number of other geo-political bargaining chips that will be played.

    For instance what will the American government negotiate in order to get the Chinese to put pressure on North Korea?

    What if the Chinese threaten to dump the over $1.2 trillion they hold in American government bonds, T-bills and notes? https://www.thebalance.com/u-s-debt-to-china-how-much-does-it-own-3306355?

    How many and what types of incentives might the Chinese government provide to their auto manufacturers in order to allow them to produce/export/sell inexpensively in North America?

    What if the U.S. threatens to end Chinese access to their market?

    Who might play the Taiwan card?

    All far too interesting and complex for easy answers.

    • 0 avatar
      FreedMike

      “Who might play the Taiwan card?” Yep. And if we don’t want to actually start a shooting war with North Korea, China will have to lean on them, so what will China want in return?

      I’m guessing the last thing on that list would be more American imports.

    • 0 avatar
      deanst

      When you hold that much debt, you (China) are in the vulnerable position, not the U.S. Even if they make some threats, the Fed could always just invoke another round of quantitative easing.

      • 0 avatar
        FreedMike

        What was China’s GDP at the beginning of quantitative easing, and what was it afterwards?

        And telling China to go screw itself over debt would hurt us just as badly as it would them. It might even end up in a shooting war, if you think about it.

        I just don’t see what we “give” China economically to get them to go along with actually confronting North Korea in a substantive way. But I’m all ears on that one.

        • 0 avatar
          Luke42

          As near as I can tell, Plan A is for Trump to “give” China bloviation on Twitter and hope that China makes huge economic changes as a result.

          That’s far more likely to work on a dmall country North Korea than on a world.power like China, and it’s not working on North Korea.

  • avatar
    dont.fit.in.cars

    Read somewhere concerning building mufflers 50 Americans could out produce 500 Chinese. Why? American workers meet spec, reworked Chinese product nulls any quantity advantage.

    • 0 avatar
      George B

      Chinese manufacturers are capable of making high-quality parts, but someone has to have patience and power to demand that they meet the specification combined with lots of testing to verify they met the requirement.

      • 0 avatar
        Steve65

        Been there, lived through that. A big part of why I got out of supply chain logistics was the massive hassle of China; from the language barrier to the time lag/time zone issues. And hugely, the relentless micromanaging needed to maintain quality standards.

        A lot of Western companies’ “unregulated manufacturing environment” wet dreams crashed hard on the discovery that they had been coasting on the benefits of regulation for decades. You could generally rely on what you got matching what you asked for, and what the supplier claimed it was. In China, not so much…

    • 0 avatar
      slavuta

      I’ve seen how Chinese pack fish. They tell you that they can take 10 lb of fish and freeze/pack with specific amount of water. So, if you want product with more fish/less water, they can do that. And then they just slap the specific label on the box, based on where fish goes to.

  • avatar
    Sceptic

    Great insightful article! Very true in the short term. But I can’t agree with the conclusion. It will take Chinese about 25 years to conquer the American market just like Germans, then Japanese, then Koreans…
    That’s a long way ahead and much can change during that period. But history is likely to repeat itself.

  • avatar
    deanst

    Well, Nissan and GM have made a business case out of $10,000CAD vehicles- or $8,000 USD- so I think the cost base is lower than Jack thinks. Just like Japan and Korea before it, China will start with crap cars and get better over time. I see no reason to think that they will be any less successful than their Asian peers.

    And really, no comments about the click bait title yet?

  • avatar
    stuntmonkey

    Pretty much what I was thinking. Imagine an electric car company with the branding and design of DJI, but with the backing of Tencent, that would definitely resonate with a younger consumer.

    (Sort of like how the Japanese historically skipped past typewriters and went straight to computers.)

  • avatar
    sirwired

    I think your analysis that Chinese quality will never fly here is a little flawed. China certainly can/does produce low-quality crap. But that’s a function of what they are charging for that crap. They are perfectly capable of producing goods of acceptable quality if the person ordering those goods is willing to pay extra for that quality. (And yes, that does tend to reduce the cost advantage of Chinese goods.)

    I agree there’s a lot of hurdles for the Chinese to surmount before selling own-brand cars here (and they can’t afford the screwups that Hyundai made in their early US days), but I don’t think an inability to manufacture decent cars is going to be one of them.

    • 0 avatar
      stuntmonkey

      I think the factor really is that unless you are Apple, there is no point being number 2 on the scene with a great product; you’d still be late to the party. The rewards would be better being the big guy at the party afterwards.

  • avatar
    rocketrodeo

    Well, Jack’s Crosslander story solves a minor mystery for me. In the early 1990s, in the tiny Ohio River town where my parents grew up, where my great-great uncle founded the Ford agency that’s now more than 100 years old, a mysterious ARO sign went up in the used-Ford lot across the street. It stayed there for several years. You couldn’t just google stuff like this then, so I incorrectly deduced that ARO stood for “authorized resale outlet.” I hadn’t given it another thought until today. I’ve been wrong about significantly more important stuff, but it’s good to know the rest of the story.

  • avatar
    stingray65

    The build quality of early Korean imports was also dire, but then again they were competing with the dismal American cars of the 1980s, import restricted Japanese, and overpriced Europeans. Today, everyone is at least pretty good to outstanding, so bad quality won’t be accepted even with a substantial price discount.

    • 0 avatar
      FreedMike

      I think you’re thinking of Hyundai here, and if that’s the case, their quality was “dire” even by late ’80s standards. I knew people who bought them.

      But not all Korean imports of that era were bad. The Pontiac LeMans and Ford Festiva were also Korean made, and were actually fairly well made.

      But Hyundai was a s**t show, for sure.

      • 0 avatar
        JohnTaurus

        Thanks for saving me the trouble of typing that, Mike.

        Saying an early U.S. market Hyundai was not that much worse than a Cavalier or Escort or Sundance is like saying there isn’t THAT much more water in the Pacific ocean than in the Gulf of Mexico. Umm, little bit. Bout half a cup. lol

        We had a 1985.5 Escort that was totalled in 1992, during the time we owned it (bought it new), it had one mechanical issue. Our neighbors had a Hyundai Excel they also bought new. It spent more time on a tow truck than it did being driven on the road. I remember the guy telling my dad about how they were on their way home from the dealer/repair shop for the fiftyleventh time when the engine blew on the freeway. That was it, he said. The car was like two years old at the most. They were absolutely horrible.

        The Ford Festiva in particular was a decently built, reliable car. It was possible to build such a car in Korea at the time, it proved it. It just seems that Hyundai couldn’t do it, and Kia needed Ford and Mazda’s guidance to do it.

        • 0 avatar
          FreedMike

          The interesting thing is that from what I remember, the engines were the *least* crappy thing about those early Hyundais – they sourced them from Mitsubishi.

          • 0 avatar
            namstrap

            Hyundai was set up by Mitsubishi, and Kia by Mazda.
            The early Hyundai Pony RWD was the same underneath as a Mitsubishi Colt. I had a Moog catalogue that listed the same part numbers for the suspension bits.
            I worked at a Mazda dealer in the early 90s and had to find parts for an early Kia mid-engine van. It was the same as a Mazda van that never made it to North America. All I had to go by was a microfiche for a catalogue. I think Mazda called it an E model, but it never wore the Mazda emblem.
            Some of the first Kia models we got here looked remarkably like Mazda 323s underneath.
            The Festiva was a Mazda 121 that never came here, but when Kia built it, it was called a Pride, and rebadged for Ford.

  • avatar
    zamoti

    Rosewood coffin? Pffft.
    http://www.newenglandburialsatsea.com/burials-at-sea/

    LIKE A BOSS

    • 0 avatar
      FreedMike

      Is there anyone who’ll sell you a Viking funeral?

      • 0 avatar
        Steve65

        For enough money, somebody will sell you anything.

        But if by “Viking Funeral” you mean that flaming boat routine, that’s 100% Hollywood fabrication that wouldn’t come close to working in the real world. You’d just end up with a charred corpse and a load of soggy charred wood.

        • 0 avatar
          geozinger

          Gee thanks, Steve65… Now you’ve totally ruined my post mortem plans…

          • 0 avatar
            FreedMike

            I want my ashes spread over Wrigley Field during the seventh inning stretch of a Cubs game…from a giant red helicopter with the Cardinals logo, with a tape of Ernie Hays playing the Bud song (“Here Comes The King”) at 170 decibels.

            That, or I want to be preserved like Lenin for eternity.

            Can’t decide which.

            Maybe Mythbusters tries the Viking funeral? Personally, I think it’d work with enough kindling.

      • 0 avatar
        JohnTaurus

        I want my body to be put in a pine box with all the decoration of…well..a plain old box. There is no use whatsoever in spending all that money on some fancy coffin. Its not like I’ll be down there enjoying it for all eternity. My body will, but I’ll be finished with it by that point, and so its just an empty, useless shell. Treat it accordingly. (Btw, I am an organ donor, so the good stuff should be gone by then lol.)

        I would say bury me in my Taurus, but unless we both die in a firey crash, let it live on in my memory.

        • 0 avatar
          Steve65

          I’m moving away from even “plain box and cremation” toward one of those “make me a tree planter and bury me in the woods” options. Body farm is also an intriguing alternative, but I don’t know if that would mix well with “organ donor”. I suppose it depends on if or how much is left in a reusable state once I go.

  • avatar
    George B

    Or go out with a bang. Cremation and then mix the cremains into fireworks. http://www.news-leader.com/story/news/business/2014/10/21/going-bang-human-ashes-shot-fireworks-springfield/17658691/

  • avatar
    guardian452

    “I’m typing this on a Chinese-made laptop that I expect to throw away within 12 months”

    I’m typing this on a Chinese-made laptop (Lenovo Thinkpad x220) that has been ticking along perfectly like a Swiss Watch since it was built in 2011, with the exception of a new battery pack fitted earlier this year. I don’t intend to throw it away. Parts are plentiful.

    But it doesn’t have an Apple logo on it. *le sigh* /s

  • avatar
    danio3834

    “It’s made in Mexico, where labor costs are actually lower than that of China”

    This right here, full stop. Mexico, at least for the time being, has the advantage of a Free Trade Agreement, as well as a big advantage in logistics.

    This is the reason why Chinese autos haven’t been able to gain traction in North America. They offer a worse product with no cost advantage. Hyundai was able to get a hold once they were finally able to sell a car that was cheap, but somewhat palatable.

    • 0 avatar
      DeadWeight

      See my reply above regarding difference between Mexican factories and facilities (fabrication, assembly & R&D) and the same in China –

      – It was a stroke of genius for China’s central planners to insist that any foreign entity wishing to build, assemble, or research in China must take on a Chinese Joint Venture Partner; this has allowed China to update their manufacturing and technological database (through overt and covert theft) from a 1960s era one, to a 2017 current one, in 17 years flat:

      “Jack is absolutely wrong in both his analysis and conclusion; Chinese-branded vehicles, whether made in the U.S., China (Envision, Cadillac CT6 PHEV, etc.),’Mexico, Latvia, Brazil, Canada, or Turkey will obtain a full’10% of U.S. market share by 2030, and once over the 10% market share hump, will then continue on to become the largest constituent share of passenger vehicles on U.S. roads in a relatively short time.

      The Chinese have stolen so much intellectual and manufacturing knowledge via their government mandated Joint Venture Partner system (where short-sighted U.S. and European vehicle manufactures, eager to exploit cheap Chinese labor, lax environmental and other non-existent regulations, and other incentives, bought in greedily) that they literally are now at parity in terms of manufacturing prowess and technology, whether we’re speaking of ICE or electric vehicles, should they choose to up their game in terms of actually spending the capital to build U.S. and European worthy vehicles (the only thing holding them back is trade issues and perception, both of which can and will change, as the corporations bringing jobs will inherit the earth and be lauded and heralded by politicians).

      The mandated Joint Venture Partner program, a great example of which is GM being forced to gives 50 years worth of knowledge to Shanghai Automotive (SAIC), was a stroke of genius by the Chinese Central Planners; it allowed SAIC, and other companies like Great Wall, Chery, GAC, and others, to go from 1967-era knowledge base, to a 2017-era knowledge base, in 17 years flat.”

    • 0 avatar
      Guitar man

      Well no. A typical factory worker in China makes about $25 a week – a fraction of what they get in Mexico.

      The reason China is less competitive is the high local content requirements. In Mexico, tariffs on imported parts can be offset by exports to other markets.

      • 0 avatar
        DeadWeight

        You are about 10-15 years behind the times.

        A factory worker in China makes a median wage of $3.60 USD per hour, while one in Mexico makes a median wage of $2.85 USD per hour.

  • avatar
    danio3834

    “The whole idea behind products like the S90 and the Buick Envision is that you make a couple grand extra on each unit…”

    The only reason these vehicles are built in China and shipped to the NAFTA zone is that they were designed to have a significant presence in China, but have the potential for incremental sales in NAFTA. But not enough to justify a second plant. Of course if you want to sell in China, you have to build in China with a Chinese partner.

    Jack is right that we’ll see more of this as China dictates more and more the form of vehicles to come.

  • avatar
    gmichaelj

    Jack:

    So as an “armchair industry analyst” I’d like to know:

    1. Where did you see the “real costs for automotive production”?
    2. Since this is the TRUTH about Cars, shouldn’t you be sharing that resource with us?
    3. Now that you know the “real costs for automotive production” could you tell us how much you contributed to the US economy when you bought your Honda, versus say a Ford Fusion?
    4. And how much did your purchase of the Mexican-assembled Silverado contribute to the US economy?

    Thanks!

    • 0 avatar
      PrincipalDan

      His Honda was assembled in Marysville, Ohio.

      “Where the Grass is Greener”

      • 0 avatar
        gmichaelj

        yes, I know where his Honda was made.

        What I want him to address is how he contributes more to the American economy by buying a foreign branded car, than a US branded one. As he has seen “the real costs for automotive production”.

        • 0 avatar
          PrincipalDan

          And do you know that ALL Accords are assembled in Ohio vs the clear majority of Fusions being assembled in Hermosillo, Sonora, Mexico?

          The last data I could find for the Fusion had 20% US/Canadian parts content. The Honda Accord has 70% US/Canadian parts content.

          The other questions I can’t help you with. Lots of “Patriotic Americans” seem to be OK with buying “Foreign” trucks while slapping Trump stickers on them.

          • 0 avatar
            gmichaelj

            Dan: I’m not trying to draw you into some fight here, and I’m not sure why you’re Jack’s Champion. I have brought this subject up before:

            https://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2017/09/ask-jack-american-exceptionalism/#comment-9372708

            and with a comment on his site, where he talks about how important it is to buy American, (sorry don’t have that link)

            So, since he’s had some notice of this (he’s said repeatedly that he reads all the comments) I want to know how his superior knowledge of the “real automotive costs” factors into his buying decisions.

            Thanks

          • 0 avatar
            PrincipalDan

            The Accord thing seems to be a “red herring” to me.

            Keep pushing the other things (Mexican made trucks and true cost of manufacture.)

            Forgive me it’s one the things that pushes my buttons. It a Camry made in KY a foreign car? Not in my eyes. Is a Buick Envision made in China a foreign car? Much more than a Camry.

            It frosts my cookies that there are people who would slap a “BUY AMERICAN” bumper sticker on a Mexican made RAM but balk at doing the same thing to a Sonata made in Alabama.

            (Thanks for tolerating my rant.)

          • 0 avatar
            gmichaelj

            I don’t think the Accord is a red herring.

            My proposition (if you look at conversation I had in the link I provided) is that the US economy is better off when you buy an American branded vehicle, even if it is “assembled” by Foreigners. Even if that requires some amount of junior-grade foreign Engineering: the real economic benefit goes to the country where the business is owned (Senior Engineers, Ad men, Dividends, R&D, Admin overhead, etc.)

    • 0 avatar
      Jack Baruth

      Answers below.

      1. Where did you see the “real costs for automotive production”?

      I worked for Ford Credit, BMW Financial, and Honda of America manufacturing off and on between 1991 and 2011.

      2. Since this is the TRUTH about Cars, shouldn’t you be sharing that resource with us?

      No.

      3. Now that you know the “real costs for automotive production” could you tell us how much you contributed to the US economy when you bought your Honda, versus say a Ford Fusion?

      Sure. The answer is “more”.

      4. And how much did your purchase of the Mexican-assembled Silverado contribute to the US economy?

      Slightly more than the Accord, but less than I’ve spent on Maryland-made PRS guitars in any of the last five years.

      Hope that helps!

      • 0 avatar
        gmichaelj

        It is a shame Jack. I was hoping you could do better than that. I know that working at a car dealership as a salesman or as a F&I guy could give you some insight into what the costs are to the dealer, but I am looking for the “real cost of automotive production”, and the benefit to society of “buying American”. Some truth. Your flippant answers show that you do not know that which you claim to know.

        So no, it didn’t help!

        • 0 avatar
          TMA1

          “the real economic benefit goes to the country where the business is owned (Senior Engineers, Ad men, Dividends, R&D, Admin overhead, etc.)”

          And wasn’t the Fusion developed in Europe under the One Ford plan?

          • 0 avatar
            gmichaelj

            I don’t know, but let’s suppose it was.

            Then the Engineers in Germany would have taken most of the Engineering dollars from the project, and the associated Admin overhead.

            But the profits (not necessarily just net income – a wider concept is contribution margin: Revenue minus Variable Costs) would still have flowed to the US. And the project would still support corporate overhead in Dearborn. And of course almost all of the dividend payments to shareholders get distributed in the US to US nationals.

          • 0 avatar
            JohnTaurus

            The Fusion was developed (designed, engineered) by both American and European divisions, not just one alone. His point is more about the profit generated, and where it goes. When you buy an Accord, yes, an American plant built it, but the profit from the car did not go to an American company.

            If the unions wouldn’t choke the life out of American carmakers like they do, especially compared to the most-if-not-all non-union plants operated by foreign companies, I have no doubt that more would be built here. Still, I’m willing to bet that at least Ford and GM (dunno about FCA) build more products (that they sell here) in this country than outside of it.

            There was an article here several months back on TTAC that showed that, overall, Ford had one of (if not the) lowest levels of Mexican content in its lineup. It may be heavy on the Fusion, but Ford builds a helluva lot more F-Series (recently adding F-650 and F-750, previously built in Mexico) and E-Series/Transits and Explorers and Expeditions and so on here than they do Fusion/MKZs and Fiestas in Mexico.

            To the people complaining about American brand cars being built in Mexico, well, please name me a large manufacturer doing buisness here *without* a production presence in Mexico. Just guess. How about…
            Toyota? No.
            Nissan? No.
            Honda? No.
            Volkswagen? No.
            Hyundai/Kia? No.
            BMW? No.
            Mercedes-Benz? No.
            Mazda? No.

            I don’t think Subaru does. Yet.

        • 0 avatar
          Arthur Dailey

          If you want a true breakdown of North American auto manufacturing costs, circa 2013 you can check the pdf linked here: http://www.caw.ca/assets/pdf/590-Auto_Price.pdf

          • 0 avatar
            gmichaelj

            Thanks Arthur, those are the kind of numbers we need to have a well informed discussion.

            I wonder if anyone else knows of any other sources that might cover US and Mexican vehicles – so we could get a broader look.

    • 0 avatar
      28-Cars-Later

      I pity the foo who dink Jack Baruth ain’t gonna schoo him on the auto industry.

  • avatar

    I don’t know if Chaboduo is intrinsically Chinese or just the current attitude on the mainland. Taiwan has a much better reputation for consistent quality and Taiwanese electronics seem to be accepted much more readily than Chinese stuff.

    I have noticed in at least a couple of instances where Chinese manufacturers are actually paying attention to consumer feedback. I bought an inexpensive laser engraver/cutter and an engineer from the manufacturer actually joined an enthusiast forum to engage with users and the company’s products upgrades since then have reflected a genuine interest in making a better product.

    As a consumer, I’d say that the cost of the “Chinese discount” is that some products, particularly electronics, will be dead on arrival. They push stuff out the door with minimal post production testing, figuring the cost of replacing stuff is cheaper than doing it correctly in the first place.

    Still, I don’t understand how the Chinese are making money making a set-neck Les Paul clone that retails from an American vendor for $180.

    • 0 avatar
      gmichaelj

      My sister bought a Chinese dash cam. I installed it for her w/o reading the directions. It worked for about a week, then it malfunctioned, and she sent it back for a refund. They refunded the money, but then asked if I had formatted the SIM card. I hadn’t (Didn’t read instructions).

      I wonder how much it would cost them to format each SIM card versus going through the occasional refund?????

  • avatar
    TMA1

    Regarding aluminum foil, trade remedy proceedings are brought by US industries and require the support of a significant portion of those industries. With GM and soon Ford to be importing cars from China, they don’t want more trade barriers to Chinese imports, they’ll want fewer. I’m sure Japanese transplants will want greater access to their Chinese factories as well.

    I’ve only once seen a US industry deliberately target a country where they produce goods, and Whirlpool only did it because they were moving all their washing machine production out of Mexico by the time duties went into effect.

    And there was a proceeding against Japanese minivans back during the early 90s. While dumping did occur back then, there was an ultimate finding that injury to the domestic industry did not occur, so no permanent duties ever went into effect. Injury is a big hurdle, and I have a hard time seeing a scenario where the Chinese provide a serious, material threat to the US auto industry.

  • avatar
    Spike_in_Brisbane

    I wonder if the Aussie market is worth observing with regards the growth of imported Chinese cars? We have had Great Walls for a while. Initially they were crap but quality has improved a lot. Recently I have seen a lot of Cherys and Havals. Foton utes are more prevalent as time goes by.

    With respect to buses, the local coach building industry has been badly hit by large numbers of Higer and King Long buses imported already assembled.

    Our safety regulations are similar to those in the US.

    I suspect the biggest obstacle to the growth of Chinese imports is the same as that preventing the appearance of Renaults, Peugeots, Citroens, Skodas, etc in America and that is the need to establish a large dealer network.

  • avatar
    Compaq Deskpro

    Correct me if any of this is wrong or you have more to add.

    Computers made in the US:

    Nothing made by Dell (as far as I know)

    Trashcan Apple Mac Pro

    HP servers

    HP Prodesk/Elitedesk business computers (vast majority, very few are made in Mexico) Here’s the factory: https://www.google.com/maps/uv?hl=en&pb=!1s0x886b55704bf43b13:0x93279d95c59a3319!2m22!2m2!1i80!2i80!3m1!2i20!16m16!1b1!2m2!1m1!1e1!2m2!1m1!1e3!2m2!1m1!1e5!2m2!1m1!1e4!2m2!1m1!1e6!3m1!7e115!4s//geo0.ggpht.com/cbk?panoid%3DVL_M3rv2NZ21YA0wFQmKHA%26output%3Dthumbnail%26cb_client%3Dsearch.LOCAL_UNIVERSAL.gps%26thumb%3D2%26w%3D173%26h%3D175%26yaw%3D281.6546%26pitch%3D0%26thumbfov%3D100!5sGoogle+Search&imagekey=!1e2!2sVL_M3rv2NZ21YA0wFQmKHA

    Some Lenovo models in North Carolina. I’ve personally seen Thinkcentre desktops, but most stuff is from Mexico or China and its unclear which specific models are made there.

    Rugged and military grade Getac laptops

    Various boutique gaming machine builders

    Computers made in Japan:

    Rugged and military grade Panasonic Toughbooks

    Thin and dainty Fujitsu Lifebooks (I have no experience with these)

  • avatar
    Tele Vision

    ‘…the myriad of issues…’

    Pedantic but ‘the myriad of issues’ translates as ‘exactly 10,000 issues’. I think you meant ‘…the myriad issues…’, which translates closer to ‘many issues’.

    Blame the Greeks.

    Class dismissed.

    • 0 avatar
      Jack Baruth

      Class back in session.

      Pedantic, but the usage of “myriad” to denote “many” in common English significantly predates the usage of “myriad” as an adjective.

      Here’s Webster:

      https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/myriad

      Note that they specifically call out your assertion as “mistaken”.

      Class dismissed.

  • avatar
    Big Al from Oz

    I don’t think the “copy” vehicles will ever make big inroads out of China, as this never worked from Korea, or even the British like Japanese vehicle of the 50s and early 60s.

    Even here in Australia we had a 4×4 Jeep clone called the Rocsta. It literally was the size of the original Willys, with the looks to match. It was okay off road and did not last in the market place, even with it’s cool looks.

    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Asia_Rocsta

    The vehicles that will impact the world out of China will be mainstream manufacturers producing and exporting, no different than the US producing Toyotas, BMWs and Mercedes Benz for the export market.

    Chinese companies like SIAC will produce indigenous vehicles that will eventually sell.

    But, the biggest vehicle potential for the Chinese will be EVs. These will be produced for the global consumer market, leaving the OECD economies fighting over the prestige and luxury end of EVs.

  • avatar
    marmot

    Very cute Seinfeld reference.

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