Zotye Confirms T600 As Brand's First U.S. Market Model

Matt Posky
by Matt Posky

At this point, it feels that every Chinese automaker has delivered an unrealistic promise of bringing fresh product into the United States within a couple of years. Last November, Zotye, Ford’s partner in Asia with a penchant for producing copycat models of European cars, announced plans to bring something over in 2020.

The firm now claims that the T600 crossover — which looks in no way like something from Volkswagen Group; certainly not an Audi Q5 or VW Touareg — will be first model in line for a boat trip to America.

Zotye, which emerged in 2005 building vehicles based on older, legally licensed European platforms, has moved up in the world. In 2007, the company saw an annual volume of just 28,577 in its home country. By 2016, that number climbed to 328,875. Its styling traditions, however, have remained largely unchanged — leading to legal headaches.

“This T600 is a perfect vehicle for the U.S. market and I’m very excited to announce it will be the first Zotye product to go on sale here,” Duke Hale, the former Mazda and Volvo executive who now heads Zotye USA, said in a corporate statement. “The vehicle has excellent quality, outstanding safety features and will be very well equipped with a unique design that will make it popular with American buyers.”

Zotye has partnered with HAAH Automotive Holdings to move metal in the United States and is already said to be ironing out engineering and homologation details as it attempts to establish a local dealer network.

According to Automotive News, Bob Pradzinski, senior vice president of sales for Zotye USA and HAAH, claims the T600 was selected because it’s the right size and price for “the heart of the SUV market.”

Other models are expected to follow, specifically a sedan and (probably) the T700 midsize crossover — which some say vaguely resembles the Range Rover Evoque.

Unfortunately, details about the U.S.-spec T600 are pretty slim. We can make a few assumptions: Considering Zotye’s claim to fame is delivering extremely affordable clones of European automobiles, the proposed crossover likely hopes to undercut its competition. In China, it starts near $14,000 and comes equipped with a variety of small engines, though the better-informed quadrants of the rumor mill see it coming into the U.S. with a 1.6-liter turbocharged engine mated to a six-speed automatic. Other regional content changes will have to be made if Zotye is serious about selling the T600 in America. Obviously, it’s in its best interest to keep the vehicle affordable, but existing tariffs might make that a challenge.

From Automotive News:

During the National Automobile Dealers Association convention in January in San Francisco, Zotye announced it had signed agreements with dealers for 19 new-vehicle stores. Pradzinski said it has dealers signed up or in process for more than 80 sales points, ahead of its plan. It expects to have about 300 stores in the top 100 U.S. markets when the T600 goes on sale and eventually about 325 locations.

Zotye plans to offer its vehicles at one price and in a customer-friendly format that will include online sales.

That’s a tall order. Tall enough to cause you to wonder how seriously you should take Zotye’s claims. Our recommendation? Treat this with all the solemnity you gave the other Chinese brands that claimed they’ll also have a car on the U.S. market before 2022.

[Images: Volha-Hanna Kanashyts/Shutterstock]

Matt Posky
Matt Posky

A staunch consumer advocate tracking industry trends and regulation. Before joining TTAC, Matt spent a decade working for marketing and research firms based in NYC. Clients included several of the world’s largest automakers, global tire brands, and aftermarket part suppliers. Dissatisfied with the corporate world and resentful of having to wear suits everyday, he pivoted to writing about cars. Since then, that man has become an ardent supporter of the right-to-repair movement, been interviewed on the auto industry by national radio broadcasts, driven more rental cars than anyone ever should, participated in amateur rallying events, and received the requisite minimum training as sanctioned by the SCCA. Handy with a wrench, Matt grew up surrounded by Detroit auto workers and managed to get a pizza delivery job before he was legally eligible. He later found himself driving box trucks through Manhattan, guaranteeing future sympathy for actual truckers. He continues to conduct research pertaining to the automotive sector as an independent contractor and has since moved back to his native Michigan, closer to where the cars are born. A contrarian, Matt claims to prefer understeer — stating that front and all-wheel drive vehicles cater best to his driving style.

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  • AnalogMan AnalogMan on May 03, 2019

    Given the quality of most Chinese-made goods I've encountered (tools, hardware, metal fittings, auto parts, etc.), I. Will. NEVER. Buy. A. Chinese. Built. Car. Ever.

    • See 2 previous
    • RHD RHD on May 05, 2019

      Considering how many Buick Envisions have been bought in the US, it seems that some people are never told where those cheesy little toys are built. Anyone with any life experience would know to think very long and hard before buying a Chinese made car, and then to steer clear. Auto buying isn't done rationally, it's just a question of the salesman getting this ass into that seat, by hook or by crook. Yugos sold for a few years, and Hyundai Excels found a few buyers, as did Cadillac Cimarrons and incredible numbers of Chevettes. (Amazingly. there are still people willing to buy GM vehicles, although their market share has been on a downward trend for decades.) The T600 will be the Chinese version of the Vega - interesting to the curious at first, then soon dropped like a hot potato.

  • Tankinbeans Tankinbeans on May 03, 2019

    The only vehicles assembled in China are Volvos that I can't afford and a crossover I don't need. Curious to see where this goes, but not enough to plunk down money.

  • Stephen Never had such a problem with my Toyota products.
  • Vulpine My first pickup truck was a Mitsubishi Sport... able to out-accelerate the French Fuego turbo by Renault at the time. I really liked the brand back then because they built a model for every type of driver, including the rather famous 300/3000GT AWD sports car (a car I really wanted, but couldn't afford.)
  • Vulpine A sedan version of either car makes it no longer that car. We've already seen this with the Mustang Mach-E and almost nobody acknowledges it as a Mustang.
  • Vulpine Not just Chevy, but GM has been shooting itself in the foot for the last three decades. They've already had to be rescued once in that period, and if they keep going as they are, they will need another rescue... assuming the US govt. will willing to lose more money on them.
  • W Conrad Sedans have been fine for me, but I were getting a new car, it would be an SUV. Not only because less sedans available, but I can't see around them in my sedan!
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