Will Chinese Car Brands Be Sold in the U.S.?
Some will point out that Volvo and General Motors already sell Chinese made vehicles here, and they would be correct. Since 2015, Volvo (owned by Geely Car Company) has sold Chinese assembled XC60’s in the U.S. Similarly, Buick has sold the Buick Envision here, which has been assembled in China since 2014. But so far, no ‘homegrown’ Chinese car company has entered the U.S. market to sell their own engineered vehicles here. Here are the two most likely companies to start—and they are taking vastly different approaches.
The Geely Car Company was founded in 1997 (Geely is an anglicization of the Chinese word for ‘lucky’). In a very short time, Geely went from a plucky upstart automaker that scored an embarrassing “zero star” crash test rating in the Latin NCAP car test for its CK model. After realizing they needed to improve their safety rating, they purchased Volvo from Ford Motor Company in 2010.
In 2017, Geely announced plans to sell its own designed and engineered vehicles in the United States by 2020, leveraging the footprint of the existing Volvo dealer base.
In a completely different approach, Duke Hale, of HAAH Automotive Holdings (which unfortunately can be abbreviated as “HAAHHA”) wants to import Chery SUV’s. It’s a Chinese car, an upscale looking SUV—a blend of Range Rover meets Lexus and mercifully, Hale wants to rename the vehicle to Vantas. Hale takes the more historical approach of Max Hoffman (original importer of Porsche) and Malcolm Bricklin (original importer of Subaru and the continuation of Fiat products). He finds a product, signs up a dealer base, and begins the U.S. emissions and crash testing.
But, these plans have been delayed because of trade tensions between China and the United States. At the same time, slowing sales in China’s home market may have slowed the energy and resources for U.S. expansion. Also, the COVID pandemic will still influence these plans to an unknown extent.
My belief is that the U.S. market is inevitable for the Chinese car brands to attempt, but it is still likely 2 years or more away. So much can change globally in that time, so for now, it’s just another trend to watch.
Greg Horn is PartsTrader’s
Chief Innovation Officer.