Low-end Chinese Cars for the US? I don’t think so!

When the great Japanese car invasion started back in the late 1960’s, they concentrated on the bargain and compact end of the market, where cost of purchase was the key motivator. This was also the model that many Chinese manufacturers followed in the mid-2000’s when they attempted to emulate their close neighbour in the European market.

Now though, many analysts are predicting that the first real foray into the American market will not be at the low end of the market with compact cars, but instead see the launching of low-volume but high-spec and definitely high-end electric vehicles, competing with the likes of Elon Musk’s Tesla for a share of the well-heeled tech-savvy enthusiast market.

Thus far and in spite of announcements from the likes of BYD Auto, Great Wall Auto and Ghuangzhou Automobile Group that they would enter into the sub-US$10,000 car market, currently it would seem that all plans have been put on hold and the light-vehicle market is still safe from Chinese competition in the US of A.

Probably the first to get into the market could be Wanxiang Group, which already has a network of US-based factories supplying mostly chassis parts to US factories. Recently, it purchased the assets of the Fisker Group, now known as Karma, and is set to launch its first product, the Revero plug-in hybrid (below) priced at US$130,000, later this year.

However, Faraday Future, a company owned by Jia Yueting of China, is already taking deposits for its Tesla-rivalling EV, the FF91, which was launched not at a motor show but at the Consumer Electronics Fair in Las Vegas.

Internet tech firms like Baidu, Alibaba and Tencents should be viewed as potential contributors to the future mobility of America; all three have set up development centres in California’s Silicon Valley as they too look to share in the brave new world of Electric-powered Autonomous Transportation.

Don’t discount the more traditional manufacturers. Zhejiang Geely Holdings announced that it would be selling cars under the Lynk & Co brand – which has been developed together with that other well-known brand Volvo – in Europe and America starting from 2019. Geely, which acquired the Swedish Volvo in 2010, is known to be developing a number of distinctly European models for Lynk & Co and thus they may well be the first to achieve commercial success in the US of A.

So, for now, most analysts believe that the Chinese manufacturers will be coming to Americaland, competing on performance, quality, styling and technology, and most definitely not price.

image: Inside EVs

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