By on December 15, 2017

Image: 2017 GAC Trumpchi GS8

It seems like we’ve been hearing about it forever — that fateful day when China surpasses the United States by every single metric imaginable and forces everyone to drive its cars. While that premonition has already come to pass in some respects, there’s still no overtly Chinese automobiles milling around on North American roads.

However, manufacturers from The People’s Republic have been looking westward for a decade. I can recall BYD Auto, along with other Chinese firms, having a booth in the basement of the North American International Auto Show way back in 2008. They weren’t there because they had nothing better to do — they were there to size up the competition and let America know they were coming. Of course, nothing happens overnight and Chinese automakers have been a little busy converting their domestic market into the world’s largest. But the time for westward expansion is fast approaching.

Geely Automotive may be among the closest to achieving the goal. Having already stated its intention to bring its Lynk & Co subsidiary to Europe and North America, it’s also the current owner of both London Taxi Co and Volvo Cars. While neither of those brands are distinctively Chinese, Volvo’s XC40 rides on the same Compact Modular Architecture as Lynk & Co’s 01 crossover.

“We have in the Western world an outrageous arrogance. We think we’re ahead. It’s going to change,” Alain Visser, senior vice president of Lynk & Co, told Reuters in a recent interview. “China is passing you at a speed that, in our arrogance, we don’t even see.”

Geely has tasked Visser specifically with the global expansion of Lynk and, so far, that strategy involves selling cars through directly-owned stores or online instead of through traditional dealer franchises. That’s going to be a little harder in the U.S., but the brand has a solution — subscription services. Volvo is even testing the waters for Lynk & Co by offering the proposed services on the XC40.

However, GAC Motor president Yu Jun recently stated that his company is still hoping to beat everyone else to the party and launch products in the American market within the next two years.

“We are building the first North America R&D Center in Silicon Valley this year and planning to enter the North American market by 2019,” he said in a release. GAC has also said it wants to have a strong presence at the 2018 North American International Auto Show and intends to bring the GA4, GA8, GM8, GS8, and a handful of concept models to Detroit next month.

Market research has positioned its likely entry point somewhere on the East Coast of the United States, with Massachusetts, Connecticut, Maine and New York being the obvious candidates. The first car it wants to sell? Probably the Trumpchi GS8 sport utility vehicle. However, its name will be adjusted to avoid any political complications. “We respect culture in the U.S. and understand there’s no precedence to use the current president’s name as a brand name,” the company explained.

It’s not going to be a silky smooth entry for Chinese automakers, however. Most countries are exceptionally wary of unproven foreign brands. Japan still isn’t particularly fond of American autos and it took the U.S. years before it was willing to accept cars developed in The Land of the Rising Sun. Meanwhile, Korean brands have only just begun to witness the softening of Western hearts.

“A key obstacle in markets like the United States is a consumer bias against Chinese-made goods,” said Jeff Cai, a Beijing-based senior director at JD Power & Associates. “Our research found most U.S. consumers think China is a third-world country that builds low-quality products.”

Further complicating the matter is China’s repeated sin of copying other country’s designs. Every Changan SUV is basically a Land Rover doppelganger; the LandWind X7 is a Range Rover Evoque, the JAC A6 is an Audi A6, the Lifan 330 is a Mini Cooper, the Kawei K1 and JAC 4R3 are both the Ford F-150, and it just goes on and on like that.

In the past, foreign companies filing claims of copyright infringement in the region are usually defeated by the Chinese government, which frequently sides with domestic carmakers. So there is little reason for manufacturers not to copy. It certainly hasn’t made anyone sympathetic to the plight of Chinese manufacturers (even those not guilty of the misdeed) trying to break into Europe and North America.

That said, we doubt it’ll be any single automaker’s undoing. Most consumers are unaware of China’s penchant for duplicating designs, and will only need to be convinced that its brands can offer a solid product for a reasonable price.

[Image: GAC]

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58 Comments on “When Will We See Chinese Cars On North American Roads?...”


  • avatar
    BC

    2018 Volvo S90 is Made in China by a Chinese owned brand.

  • avatar
    dukeisduke

    I’ve already seen two or three S90s, and a few Envisions.

  • avatar
    PandaBear

    It took the Japanese and Korean around 20-30 years to do it right, and a lot of money.

    I think the Chinese will need at least that long if they don’t want to buy and recycle a retired name like they did in the appliance and electronics market. Maybe a bit quicker if they slap a few Western brands on it but it would still take at least 10-20 years.

    I don’t see them do it right away without con-questing the 3rd world market like Africa, India, Latin America, and Eastern Europe first.

    • 0 avatar
      CKNSLS Sierra SLT

      Pandabear-
      The Chinese already have seen the mistakes made by the Koreans with their initial entry in to the U.S. car market. Mainly-importing junk ill suited to American tastes.

      To think the Chinese are going to not take in to the account what (mistakes) the Koreans did-and make the same mistakes, is calling the Chinese car manufacturers really stupid. I don’t think that is the case.

      It won’t take them any where that long to get it right. IMHO.

    • 0 avatar
      Heino

      Agreed, I have been looking at motorcycles and both KTM and BMW are building some of their sub 500cc bikes in India. It will take time for us to trust “made in China”. I hope we end up like Germany competing with the high end products, otherwise it a race to the bottom.

      • 0 avatar
        DeadWeight

        Chinese-made vehicles (regardless of origin of brand/badge) will constitute a full 20% of vehicles sold in the U.S. by 2025…maybe 2028 at outset.

        It’s nearly inevitable.

        This despite Trump’s campaign bullish!t promises (the same Trump who has a lot of his and his family’s garbage merchandise made in China and lesser developing natjons) — MAGA!!!!

        Jack Baruth will add a Chinese-made vehicle to his driveway to complement his Hecho En Mexico Bad Hombre MAGA/Trump Edition Silverado by 2020.

  • avatar
    Felix Hoenikker

    If the Trumpchi GS8 makes a lot of noise but barely accomplishes it’s self proclaimed mission, they should keep the name.

  • avatar
    MRF 95 T-Bird

    The Chinese MG. They purchased the brand from Rover a decade ago and build entry level sedans and CUV’s.
    If they only gave us the mid engine TF roadster.
    It could be a decent entry level vehicle marketed here priced below a Kia.

    https://carnewschina.com/category/brands/shanghai-mg/

    • 0 avatar
      dukeisduke

      At one time they were supposedly going to build a plant in Oklahoma, to build TFs. But that never got off the ground.

      • 0 avatar
        MRF 95 T-Bird

        I remember that. It was back in 2006-7.
        The roadster market is fairly small and it probably was not worth producing it here.
        They still might want to build some vehicles here if the incentives are right. The savings from freight alone might be enough of a difference.

  • avatar
    KOKing

    It’s already happening with commercial vehicles. I’m seeing more JAC box trucks lately, and BYD’s been selling electric buses here for a few years, though I believe they’re CKD’d in the US.

  • avatar
    indi500fan

    Americans buy a lot of Chinese manufactured stuff, but not much with any branding associated with China. Haier appliances are one that comes to mind, but I wonder how many folks view them as distinct from all the other “traditional” brands (Frigidaire, etc) now made in China? China has come ashore with construction and ag equipment having Chinese branding with some success, mostly based on low initial cost.

    Obviously there are some Buicks and Volvos following the “stealth” path but will be interesting to see if anybody lands with a “new” brand.

    • 0 avatar
      PandaBear

      I think Haier bought the GE appliance division and Maidi (spelling?) got Toshiba, Haier brand itself seems to only do mini fridge and window AC and compete on price.

      Consider how GE try to gouge me $180 for a microwave touch pad replacement for their design defect, a new Chinese owner may be more honest.

  • avatar
    mcs

    I had to check out the Lifan 330! Loved their description of the front grill: “The big-mouth front grille of 330 is more motional which is full of sport sense.”

    http://www.lifanmotors.net/car/330/

    • 0 avatar
      Mud

      Like many ebay descriptions Chinglish provides a lot of entertainment.

      • 0 avatar
        2manycars

        It’s always a laugh riot to see foreigners’ pathetic attempts to use the King’s English. In fact there is a web site devoted to it:

        http://www.engrish.com/

        • 0 avatar
          30-mile fetch

          What’s worse is the substantial portion of the born-and-raised-here population that mangles the language nearly as badly. And it’s the only one they speak.

          No wonder they are so frustrated at seeing Spanish printed alongside English, they are having a hard enough time with the one.

          • 0 avatar
            Lou_BC

            I’m with @30-mile on this one.

            A person attempting to speak in a foreign tongue is commendable.

            A local with monosyllabic comprehension is a pathetic reflection upon the lack of attention paid to the education system.

            For what it’s worth, the USA doesn’t speak the “King’s English”.

    • 0 avatar

      So it is true – they already make Ford Fusion in China! http://www.lifanmotors.net/car/820/

  • avatar
    Whatnext

    Of course if Trump wasn’t just an empty bag of hot air, he’d bring in rules to restrict Chinese trade. But no doubt President Xi waved some dollars (or yuan) under his nose at their meetings and the promise to deal with unfair Chinese trade practices has conveniently been forgotten.

    • 0 avatar
      Nedmundo

      Nope. Had to have been rubles.

    • 0 avatar
      Luke42

      “Of course if Trump wasn’t just an empty bag of hot air, he’d bring in rules to restrict Chinese trade.”

      Restricting trade would cause the economies of both the US and China to shrink.

      In the professional jargon of economists, a shrinking economy is called a “recession”.

      You’ll find that any introductory text on macroeconomics will explain why in the first few chapters.

      Trump’s impotence is protecting us from his ignorance. Otherwise, we’d be in a recession already.

      • 0 avatar
        Jeremiah Mckenna

        What? Restricting trade of one product isn’t going to make the U.S. or North American economy or China’s economy to shrink. We already receive enough crap from China and they receive enough rice from us.

        Oh yeah, that rice deal was brought to you by the Trump Administration. Yes, it was in “talks” for a long time, but it was Trump that finalized it and made it great for America.

        • 0 avatar
          Luke42

          “What? Restricting trade of one product isn’t going to make the U.S. or North American economy or China’s economy to shrink.”

          Here’s the standard argument that you’ll find in any macroeconomics textbook:
          https://www.economicshelp.org/trade2/benefits_free_trade/

          Please read this and consider it before reading the next paragraph.

          What is typically glossed over is that the benefits of such trade are in aggregate for the entire nation. There’s no guarantee that the benefits of growing trade or a growing economy will be shared
          equally (or even proportionally) by all citizens of the nation. In other words, there are winners and losers from trade and specialization within a nation, even if the aggregate wealth within a national is increased through trade.

  • avatar
    JMII

    iPhones are made in China and they aren’t considered “junk”. I don’t think “Made in China” is the problem. As mentioned most of the stuff we buy here is already made in China. Problems start to arise when the stuff is made in China by the lowest bidder. Also designed in China is a problem, because they can’t design anything themselves it seems, instead they can only do a poor copy job.

    Given the nature of people to buy the cheapest thing possible I’m sure Chinese vehicles will sell. After all people bought Yugos. One of the reasons we have such crappy airlines these days is people buy mainly based on airfare price, who cares about service or quality. This encourages competition to strive for even lower prices thus turning the whole industry into garbage. Its a race to the bottom… and Wal-Mart proved this can be a successful system.

    What Volvo has done is the clear path here. Used an established brand with a good reputation to insert Chinese made items. However a true, stand alone Chinese brand would be a tough sell unless the marketing spin was epic and the design language or some unique feature captured people’s attention.

    • 0 avatar
      brandloyalty

      “American” cars are already full of Chinese parts. German cars too.

      • 0 avatar

        No stuff. I’m amazed at the number of “made in china’ labels on my freaking Caddy. My Americanski wheels are stamped “made in china” on the back….on a caddy…..why couldn’t someone in Michigan or Ohio make those wheels ?

        • 0 avatar
          DeadWeight

          Because General Guangzhou Motors is becoming more and more a Chinese Automaker with each passing day, but don’t worry, because Trump and the Trumptard Guard promise we will reverse this and other such trends with FULL SCALE MAGAAAAA!!!!

  • avatar
    brandloyalty

    “We have in the Western world an outrageous arrogance. We think we’re ahead. It’s going to change,” Alain Visser, senior vice president of Lynk & Co, told Reuters in a recent interview. “China is passing you at a speed that, in our arrogance, we don’t even see.”

    That we’ve been passed in household consumer goods is obvious. Chinese state support of ev’s will boost their expertise beyond ours in that area, in hand with solar and wind power. Current political direction in the US will be apparent as incredible stupidity in a decade or so. Enjoy answering to the Chinese masters.

    • 0 avatar
      28-Cars-Later

      The Chinese despite their issues do not have the massive money pit of the MIddle East, or worldwide military infrastructure to contend with at all.

      “At the same time, the US spent a lot of money on foreign conflicts. “In the past 30 years, America had 13 wars spending $14.2 trillion … no matter how good your strategy is you’re supposed to spend money on your own people,” Ma said. “The money goes to Wall Street. Then what happened? Year 2008. The financial crisis wiped out $19.2 trillion in US income … What if the money was spent on the Midwest of the United States, developing industry there?”
      “It is not that the other countries steal jobs from you guys — that is your strategy. You did not distribute the money in the proper way.””

      http://www.independent.co.uk/news/world-0/alibaba-founder-jack-ma-has-a-brutal-theory-of-how-america-went-wrong-over-the-past-30-years-a7821396.html

      • 0 avatar
        Garrett

        Before you start commenting on China and the Middle East, bone up on what they are doing to their Muslim population.

        They’ll either end up eliminating Islam from their country, or creating a significant national security problem for themselves. Or both.

    • 0 avatar
      Prado

      Why would you expect the US political direction to have a such a detrimental effect to our auto-industry. GM, Ford, and pretty much every automaker are multinational corporations that develop products for numerous markets. GM sells significantly more vehicles in China than it does in the U.S. Approximately 4 million vs 3 million in the US in 2016. If China wants electric cars, GM, and anyone else that wants to play in that market, will deliver. They aren’t just going to say ‘Sorry, Americans don’t want to pay for electric cars, so we don’t have any to sell you’. Personally, I am rather happy by other countries taking the lead on the electrification on the automobile. Let their citizens pay for the R&D to drive down the price of electric cars to the point that they can compete with internal combustion cars from an economic standpoint, without having to play the green card.

  • avatar
    Skenk

    featured SUV: To complete assembly, fold back tabs. Quad rectangular headlights for that AMC Eagle nostalgia.

  • avatar
    Luke42

    Chinese cars first arrived on North America’s roads at least 5 years ago:
    https://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2012/11/capsule-review-honda-fit-made-in-china-edition/

    ¯_(ツ)_/¯

  • avatar
    DownEaster

    Recent news on her I believe about the Ford Focus and Fusion being made in China and sold in the US as Fords. Will be interesting to see how people respond to them. Also isn’t a Buick SUV or car already imported to the US from China? Will be interesting when the Chinese car companies come in under their own brands.

  • avatar
    amca

    Based on recent business dealings with some particularly odious Chinese, it is my fond hope that we never see Chinese cars on our roads. It is also my hope that their demographic, social and governmental problems catch up with them soon (it’s only a matter of time . . . ) and the country implodes.

  • avatar
    Jeremiah Mckenna

    Oh Gawd. Hopefully NEVER, we already have or had enough crap car brands here, like Mitsubishi, Suzuki, Geo, Isuzu, Ugo and a few others I can’t think of right now. Why do we need more?

    Not to mention they can only copy others, and can not make an original car that looks good. What about safety, EPA, economy and dependability?

    I don’t care that they make one Volvo, that was a turn key operation that has Volvo engineers, QC, dealer network etc.

    I try as hard as I can to avoid M.i.C. products when I can. Unless of course it is something that I know will fall apart and don’t care about it.

    • 0 avatar
      JohnTaurus

      So, you name one brand that still exists here, but that is too many? Lol.

      Poor people need to buy cars, too.

      • 0 avatar
        Lou_BC

        “I try as hard as I can to avoid M.i.C. products when I can. Unless of course it is something that I know will fall apart and don’t care about it.”

        I’m wondering if you actually know where the device that you typed that comment on was made?

  • avatar
    threeer

    NIMD (not in my driveway). Look, I understand that for certain sectors, it is neigh on impossible to not buy something made in China. But for vehicles, I still have a choice. Mine is to attempt as much as possible to pay the wages for my neighbors, friends and family and to NOT see $300+ billion go to a country in excess trade that is neither friend nor ally. I’d like to see trade parity (so if the Chinese force American companies to join lopsided JVs, or impose massive tariffs on products made in the US and sold in China, or demand that we hand over the technical know-how…then it should be one-for-one in reverse). But in the end, Americans tend to like *cheap* and Chinese cars, if priced low enough, will sell…regardless of the true cost to America’s economy, prosperity and independence.

    • 0 avatar
      TonyJZX

      I think that ship has sailed. Even a big car company selling 100,000 chinese cars isnt that big a deal compared to Walmart and every other consumer goods company stocking their shelves full of china goods.

      Wheres your anger at American enterprise forcing chinese goods on the population?

      • 0 avatar
        SSJeep

        Threeer didnt say that he shopped at Walmart or that he supported their business model.

        I am inclined to agree with Threeer – given the choice I would probably not choose a China-made marque. At least not for the first few years of production. Dont forget that any new entrant into the US auto market needs to set up a dealer network, hire people, staff a service organization, etc, which will take a LONG time. 2020 seems overly optimistic. The only reason why Volvo and Buick were able to import China-made vehicles and sell them in the US is because they already have this level of support established. And, they are not selling well.

  • avatar
    DeadWeight

    Jack cried MAGA, like a parrot with an almond-sized brain, then immediately purchased an Hecho En Mexico Silverado (Hombre Edition).

    Jack will be rocking a Trumpchi before too much longer.

    MAGA.

  • avatar
    Spike_in_Brisbane

    “However, manufacturers from The People’s Republic have been looking westward for a decade. ”
    Shouldn’t that be eastward. Surely they’re not expecting great sales in Khazakstan or Afghanistan?

    • 0 avatar
      Art Vandelay

      There is a ton of made in China fake Beats headphones and bootleg movies sold at the Bazaars on every major Forward Operating Base in Afghanistan. I guarantee that by this time next week Soldiers will be watching “The Last Jedi” with Chinese subtitles if they aren’t already doing so.

  • avatar

    No one will care about the inside baseball being discussed here. Some chinese market car looks like an X5 ? so what, you’ll never see that here.

    If the chinese do to car what they did to radios, they will be a success, no matter the crappy quailty. In the Ham Radio world, there were three big makers…Icom, Yaesu and Kenwood, and one or two smaller ones. A typical VHF/UHF mobile radio would cost a bit under $200 for a single band, or $400 or so for a dual band. The Chinese came in with a raft of radios at half the price. Like cars, most of them are copies of the name brands. They are such copies that the software used to program name brand usually works on the copy too.

    Now, a Baofeng or Wouxun isn’t as good as a Kenwood or Yaesu, but for half the price, overnight the ham bands were full of them. I have a Yaesu handheld and a Baofeng. One is serious and one is a toy, but they both transmit and receive the same frequencies, and in non hostile environments, the cheap chinese radio works well enough, even though spectrum scopes find the transmit to be much messier than the name brands…… Return rates on the chinese radios are much much higher, and there is no “factory service” like the big three, but at the prices, you can toss it if it doesn’t work.

    If they give you a basic car for $15k OTD, a small SUV for 17K OTD, which isn’t a penalty box and carries a 4 year warranty, they will sell. The Chinese can, with cars break the formal-informal cartel of pricing and features like they did with radios. Look at all the people who want that late 90’s Accord for 5k….there is a massive market buying used cars who would over look or just not care about point of origin if they could get a NEW car with a WARRANTY for a reasonable (ie not 84 months) car payment.

  • avatar
    darex

    If they stop cheating, ripping off other people’s designs, and put in the work, maybe. However, as evidenced by their scooter manufacturing efforts, cheating in areas like metallurgy, and other sleights-of-hand, is not the way to earn people’s trust and respect. Integrity is their number one problem — something that the Koreans and Japanese have in spades, but the Chinese lack. Hyundai has earned their position through determination, study, and decades of hard work. Why should the Chinese leapfrog the Japanese and Koreans?

  • avatar
    toxicroach

    I don’t want to be that guy, but I’m going to be that guy. Half the taxis in Costa Rica are cheap Chinese sedans, the kind that makes 2007 Chryslers look like BMWs. Costa Rica is in North America, so… gotcha.

  • avatar
    415s30

    Not in a million years would I buy a Chinese car.

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