By on May 2, 2019

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]

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49 Comments on “Zotye Confirms T600 As Brand’s First U.S. Market Model...”


  • avatar
    IBx1

    Exactly what we needed, a previous-gen Q5 with a final-production Touareg bumper and what’s sure to be a nightmare of an engine!

  • avatar
    forward_look

    I remember when Japanese cars were shit (I’ve had 3 and can verify this).

    I remember when Korean cars were shit.

    Now Chinese cars are shit… but that’s today.

  • avatar
    Lie2me

    A cheap copy of a German crossover with an anemic engine, what could go wrong?

  • avatar
    SCE to AUX

    Tariffs will kill this.

    Besides, I’d rather buy an original Chinese product than an obvious clone.

  • avatar
    Dilrod

    Oh, this is going to be good…

  • avatar
    FreedMike

    Well, for starters, the story might have disclosed that there is a newer model than the one shown in the picture (which is DEFINITELY an Audi Q5 clone), and here it is:

    http://www.zotye.com/carmodel/index/10.html

    You’ll have to have Google translate from Chinese, of course, which yields gems like “7-speed dual-pump wet double clutch” (well, yeah, dual pumping requires plenty of wetness, Bubba).

    But this new one clearly isn’t a Q5 clone – it appears to be far more Ford-sourced. And as generic crossovers go, this one looks doesn’t look half bad – I think it’d be pretty easy to sell here.

    • 0 avatar
      blackEldo

      THANK YOU! Every car blog is posting this story with the old model. A little journalistic integrity goes a long way, fellas.

    • 0 avatar
      scott25

      The interior looks modern at least. It’ll be a hit as long as it’s cheap and lasts the lease period.

    • 0 avatar
      Art Vandelay

      Dual Pump? So what, like a Holley 650 cfm double pumper? Seems over carb’d

    • 0 avatar
      ToolGuy

      FreedMike, thanks for the link.

      As pictured in the link (not the photograph), this one checks all the boxes for modern ‘design’:
      – Random angular cut lines in the lower front fascia
      – Bizarre transition from hood to base of A pillar
      – Vertically sliced wheel well openings (bonus: no dogleg)
      – Multiple embellishments on outside rear view mirror housings
      – Triple wavy bendy character lines
      – Nonfunctional weirdness along lower door sills, punctuated at the rear
      – Droopy roofline (because who really cares about passengers or cargo?)
      – “Designer’s mural” C/D pillar with your choice (well, their choice) of expressive interplay between Class A surface and blackout treatment

      • 0 avatar
        dukeisduke

        It has six (!) parking sensors on the front. But, since you can buy parking sensor kits on Amazon for $20, that’s easy.

        And, the mom in the background looks hot.

  • avatar
    MKizzy

    T600? Sounds like a rejected Terminator model.

    We may laugh at these Chinese automakers and the blatant knockoff styling of some of them, but its only a matter of time before one of them ends up selling more cars here than Mitsubishi. There are enough import-loving Progressives, people of Asian descent less turned off by such vehicles and early adopters on the West Coast to sustain a Chinese nameplate until it’s established–just how Kias were only exclusive to the West Coast.

    • 0 avatar
      Bill Wade

      “Its only a matter of time before one of them ends up selling more cars here than Mitsubishi.”

      That’s kind of a low bar. lol

    • 0 avatar
      RHD

      No, it’s not “import-loving progressives” (wtf?!) or “people of Asian descent” who would buy cheap Chinese cars. It’ll be the credit challenged and the naive. Mitsubishi will some competition, and with Mitsubishi engines, too. These will gain a foothold in Florida, maybe, until they get laughed out of the U.S. market.
      Their only advantage will be price, not style, quality, ride comfort, fuel economy, durability, performance or perceived luxury.
      The overweight, soda-swilling Walmart regulars who don’t care about where their cheap crap comes from will buy these, as long as their XXXL derrieres fit in the seats.
      And Korean cars didn’t start on the West Coast. The Hyundai Pony was available in Canada several years before Hyundai began to sell in the US. The T600 is the modern Pony (Excel in the US, which was a copy of the Mitsubishi Precis) – a cheap entry to get a toehold into the market, whose owners will soon regret having bought what looked like a bargain at the time.

      • 0 avatar
        dukeisduke

        A former boss of mine owned one of the first Excels sold in the US, and used it to drive to work, and his nighttime MBA classes. He called it a “Dixie Cup car”.

      • 0 avatar
        Scott

        The pony wasn’t an Excel (we had that in Canada as well), the pony was rear wheel drive for starters, it was more like a Korean chevette.

    • 0 avatar
      mittencuh

      “Import-loving progressives”, really? What do you call all the octogenarians driving Chinese-built Buick’s?

  • avatar
    Mackie

    Of all the crossover choices here, why would anybody go for this. Expect the quality and reliability of an ‘80s Hyundai.

  • avatar
    Jeff S

    I think that GM or Ford would be interested in rebadging these and importing them as their own. Could you imagine the profit margin that both GM or Ford would derive from these models and I doubt that either would care about the quality since profit is their main concern. Wall Street would love this.

  • avatar
    scott25

    Hey, if they sell the manual version here, all the “enthusiasts” will buy it, right?

  • avatar
    DeadWeight

    Honda has a MASSIVE PROBLEM with their 1.5 liter turbocharged “earthdreams” engine (rolled out for the 2018 MY)as used across their CRV, Accord and Civic lineup…

    Major Oil Dilution.

    It’s a massive issue which Honda has yet to even remotely acknowledge, let alone devise a fix for, and it’s a global problem with those motors, from China to the USA.

    Here’s just one link that represents a glimpse into the tip of the iceberg of the scale and scope of the problem (Honda should NOT have gone the turbo-direct injection route, let alone CVT):

    http://www.hondaproblems.com/oil-dilution/

    http://www.driveaccord.net/forums/241-10th-generation/515666-cr-v-1-5t-engine-issue-fuel-oil-will-10th-gen-1-5t-accord-affected-too-14.html

    Read this driveaccord forums thread (one of many) on serious fuel dilution issues with 1.5 liter turbo AND 2.0 liter turbo engines used in global Accords, Civics and CRVs.

    By the way, Consumer Reports has now pushed hard on this and is awaiting for an accurate and complete response from Honda Corp, given that CR is now also fielding many survey complaints from very unhappy owners of 2018- going forward CR-Vs, Civics and now, Accords (10th gen) who have fuel dilution problems that Honda dealerships can’t seem to remedy.

    The dilution issue is likely a design defect inherent to these motors, rather than a manufacturing one, which is even worse news.

    Honda’s quality control and reliability rankings have been sliding precipitously.

    Small displacement turbo engines and CVTs = big risk. Honda will pay a huge financial AND reputational price.

    • 0 avatar

      Cannot be. I know for fact that Honda owners will never complain about their car having a problem because the only reason they bought Honda is because they were smart to buy bullet proof super reliable Honda. So they would look like idiots if they admit that they are among few unlucky Honda owners who got Honda lemon.

      • 0 avatar
        DeadWeight

        Check out Consumer Reports latest articles about Honda’s major engine problems (globally, and affecting the CRV, Civic, and Accord in major markets).

        They won’t be able to solve the oil dilution (fuel blows by piston rings when engine is cold or even not fully warmed, going straight into oil; Honda owners and dealership techs say it literally smells like straight up gasoline when doing oil changes). Also check out the excellent YouTube videos that explain this problem on ALL Honda turbocharged engines with direct injection (using high pressure combustion GDI module).

        Also, Honda has one of Consumer Reports least reliable vehicles in the Odyssey, which has major transmission, electrical and other myriad of issues, and is now the 3rd LEAST RELIABLE VEHICLE on their list.

        Sh!t’s GETTING REAL for HONDA MOTOR CORPORATION ON A GLOBAL BASIS.

  • avatar
    Robbie

    Surely the Chinese can very well make a technologically trivial Chrysler-like automotive product. Without a “Jeep” or “Ram” like brandname or a vastly superior product however, it may be a hard sell in the US market.

  • avatar

    The first thing I will do after buying that T600 – I will replace Zotye badges with more prestigious Audi or VW ones. It will immediately increase its resale value.

  • avatar
    sgeffe

    “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.”

    Confucius say: crappy quality which fold up like our cheap lawn chair, and cheap copy of VW which will fall apart before tenth payment is made!

    • 0 avatar
      sgeffe

      And inside mirror dead-winger for old VW piece before stupid VW go down path of putting widicurous “smiley” mirror in cars like the west of the sheep!

  • avatar
    analogman

    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.

    • 0 avatar
      ToolGuy

      There is crap made on every continent and good stuff made on several – it comes down to who is making it, their suppliers, the materials, the processes they have in place…

      China Bad is painting with too broad a brush – as is Japan Good.

      • 0 avatar
        HotPotato

        Yep. I suspect you’d be hard-pressed to find quality differences between a six-figure flagship Volvo built in the frozen motherland and a six-figure flagship Volvo built in China. Or, for that matter, between a mid-priced Buick SUV built in the rusty heartland and a mid-priced Buick SUV built in China. A car with a low-end Chinese domestic badge, on the other hand…

    • 0 avatar
      RHD

      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.

  • avatar
    tankinbeans

    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.


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