Businessweek Archives

Chinese autos abroad?


Well, Geely’s coming out ceremony at the Detroit Auto Show certainly created a buzz. China’s only competitive private auto maker thinks big and plans by chairman Li Shufu to export a sub $10,000 vehicle to the U.S. by 2008 sure demonstrate that. All told, the company plans to export

a whopping 1.3 million vehicles by 2015.

There is no doubt that this won’t be easy, however. Even at home in China, Geely suffers from a shoddy reputation with consumers well aware that there is a quality/price trade-off when buying Geely’s ultra cheap wheels. And meeting quality standards in mature markets like the U.S. will be far more challenging of course, as will developing a brand people know and respect, not to mention creating whole new distribution networks.

Indeed, Malcolm Bricklin (famous for bringing the shortlived Yugo to the U.S. in the 1980s) is now saying that Geely’s rival Chery will have to push back its arrival date on American shores until the end of 2007 (still ahead of Geely.)

Still, there is little doubt that Chinese vehicles will at some point in the not too distant future start selling in big numbers outside their home market. Whether it is Geely, Chery, or some other brand altogether, it’s too early to call.


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