When Will Chinese Cars be Sold in the US?

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When Will Chinese Cars be Sold in the US?

We get gadgets, clothes and even car parts from China, but when will we see a car from China sold on our shores? The answer is “very soon.”

Get ready to welcome the made-in-China 2016 Volvo S60L as the first mainstream Chinese car to be sold in the US. Surprised to see a Volvo made in China? Don’t be, as the Swedish company was bought by Geely, a Chinese automaker, in 2010.

Essentially a stretched version of the S60 with more rear seat space, the S60L will hit the U.S. next year, although exact timing has yet to be confirmed.

Where are the rest of the Chinese Cars?

geely-emgrand-ec7While Chinese automakers have been saying that want to enter the North American market for a number of years, none have made the jump.

“The delay in launching sales of Chinese made vehicles in the United States by Chinese automakers is due to a few fundamental reasons, the main one being that the vehicles are just not ready,” said Namrita Chow, IHS Automotive’s Principal Analyst. “Despite meeting various safety standards the vehicles often do not meet consumer tastes and lack competitive brand awareness.”

Chow pointed to the lack of success of the Geely brand internationally. “Let’s look at the Geely EC7 which received a 4 star crash test rating on the Euro New Car Assessment Program as far back as 2011,” she said. “But so far its sales outside China are falling and it does not currently sell in developed markets in Europe or North America.”

Furthermore, Chinese automakers are struggling in their own market. Chow cited Great Wall as an example.

“The company is selling its models in the United Kingdom where it offers a six-year warranty package to attract buyers,” she said. “But Great Wall has had serious problems in its home market where the much hyped Haval H8 SUV was pulled from the market indefinitely.” If Great Wall struggles making an impression on its local fans in China, Chow said it will have great difficulty making any inroads in the extremely competitive US market.

Do These Ones Count?

2012-coda-ev-front-three-quarterOne made-in-China car had a brief stint here in the US: the Coda EV. While Coda is an American company, the Coda EV is based on a Chinese car called the Hafei Saibao. The electric batteries too were produced in China, though designed by Coda. However, Coda’s automotive branch filed for bankruptcy in 2013 and only 117 examples of this Chinese based car ever sold.

There’s one more Chinese made car that hit North America, just not the US. Canada saw made-in-China versions of the last generation Honda Fit in their showrooms. Though this arrangement has stopped with the introduction of the third-generation Fit (which is made in Mexico) Canadian press seemed fairly positive about the made-in-China Honda Fit, with no noticeable concerns about build quality.

“The Honda Fit is currently built in China and exported, and this does not face any problems,” said Chow.

Consumers didn’t seem to care either. In fact, Canadian Honda Fit sales grew by 67 percent year-over-year in 2012 to 4,736 units while the China-built Fit was on sale.

2009-Honda-Fit-4

“It’s abundantly clear that Canadian consumers had no concern over the Fit’s assembly location,” auto data tracking site Good Car Bad Car founder Timothy Cain said.

The extra availability from the Chinese plant is said to be a key factor in the additional sales. “As supply from the Guangzhou plant improved in 2013, Fit sales improved as well, with no regard given to its origin,” said Cain. “Did people care that the Fit was built in China? Well, Fit buyers clearly didn’t, and there were more Fit buyers last year than in 2010, 2011, or 2012.”

How Will Volvo Fare?

2015-Infiniti-Q70“As long as [Volvo] continues to maintain its supply chain with top tier suppliers, the vehicles produced in China should not face negativity,” Chow said.

We could see other premium automakers follow in Volvo’s footprints. Luxury brand Infiniti has its global headquarters in Hong Kong, and has mentioned that production in China could start soon. American consumers are actually getting a sampling of the Chinese tastes too, as the automaker will begin offering the made-for-China Infiniti Q70L in the US.

  • Billy Cypher

    I have serious reservations about a vehicle made in China, namely quality control and Chinese political corruption that puts profit ahead of safety. If we were talking about a pair of shoes made in China it might be a different story, but with food or automobiles there’s too much at stake.

  • smartacus

    “did people care that the Fit was made in China?”
    Uh…did people KNOW the Fit was made in China?

  • Stevie

    And the GM ignition lock issue is not profit over safety.

  • Billy Cypher

    It probably is, but we’re discussing Chinese-made automobiles and I’d probably never buy a GM product now either.

  • chavitz

    Both L.A and New York City’s bridges, very important landmarks in both cities, were built by Chinese companies. Without the China manufacture prowess, Apple wouldn’t even be competitive in the cell phone market. Recently researched portable generators and found out all the American brands are made in China . So cars made in China come to a the US market soon. Volvo has token the lead

  • Jeff T

    Would love to see Chinese steel after a Canadian winter.

  • Honest Abe

    Commie cars… how that’s a real Government Motors

  • Rickers

    But here’s the real question: would you rather buy a Chinese made Honda or a Mexican made Ford?

  • Mark S

    Some Chinese products seem genuine attempts at providing great cars and SUV’s. Some though are rip offs though e.g. the Landwind E36 which is a rip off of a Landrover Voque.

  • Setsunafse

    Chinese Honda? My three cents:

    1) Did Canadians know the car was built in China?

    2) If they did know the Fit was built in China, they probably bought it because it was a Honda. 3) Hellz to the NO would I ever buy a Chinese built car from ANY automaker. I have a Japanese built Honda Fit (USA), I would not have bought the car if it were built in China.

  • dennisvernier

    I’d buy a Chinese car. My tires are Chinese. Everything is Chinese.