The first Chinese car that could make it to America? An SUV called the Trumpchi GS8.
The Chinese auto market has long been one that US automakers are keen to conquer, especially since an increase in living standards within the nation have led consumers to put record numbers of cars on Chinese roads. While foreign auto companies are able to get their vehicles past the Great Wall and into Chinese consumers’ driveways (albeit with some difficulty), high taxes and protectionist policies have led Chinese automakers to rule the local market.
Now that they’ve grown to a considerable size, these car companies want to expand and begin selling to the west. Their first target? The world’s second largest auto market: the USA. According to Reuters, a few of China’s auto giants are keen on expanding by breaking into the US auto market and giving just about every other auto company a run for their money. “We have in the Western world an outrageous arrogance. We think we’re ahead. It’s going to change,” says Alain Visser, Senior Vice President of Geely’s Lynk & Co. Though it makes perfect economic sense to want to expand into the US market, Visser’s comments seem to indicate that his company is focused more on changing perceptions of Chinese products rather than just selling cars.
“China is passing you at a speed that in our arrogance we don’t even see,” added Visser. There’s a good reason for that attitude. “A key obstacle in markets like the United States is a consumer bias against Chinese-made goods,” said Jeff Cai, a senior director at JD Power & Associates. “Our research found most U.S. consumers think China is a third-world country that builds low-quality products.” That means that Chinese automakers will have to produce cars that vanquish those stereotypes. If all goes to Geely’s plan, Lynk & Co will begin selling its cars in Europe by 2019 and hit the US market by 2020.
In order to have an edge over the competition, the company will focus almost exclusively on selling green cars like hybrids, plug-in hybrids, and all-electric vehicles. These will comply with US standards and come right as the rest of the industry begins to introduce its collection of energy-efficient vehicles. Like Tesla, Geely plans to sell its vehicles using its own stores or an online sales model rather than by supplying dealerships that would in turn get these cars to consumers. In states where the direct sales model is not allowed, Lyn & Co will sell subscription-based services that would rent cars out using contracts that cover the cost of insurance and service.
Visser says that Lynk & Co plans to appease angry dealerships and their powerful lobby groups by franchising dealers to service these Chinese cars. So what’s the first car slated to make it to America? None other than an SUV by the name of “Trumpchi GS8”. Count on that name being changed before it makes it to shore, though.