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China’s BYD Ready to Launch into U.S. Market – Really.

Long-delayed debut could come in 2015, maker insists.

by on Jan.07, 2014

One of BYD's latest models, the F3R.

A New Year and an old promise.  Once again, China’s BYD says it is ready to finally enter the U.S. market.  It’s the same thing the maker has been claiming since showing off its products at the North American International Auto Show in 2010. But while the company will be notably absent from the Detroit show this year, a senior executive claims it is finally ready to make the jump across the Pacific.

The Chinese maker, which has the backing of U.S. mega-investor Warren Buffett’s Berkshire Hathaway, plans to introduce four models into the U.S. by the end of 2015, according to Stella Li, who oversees operations in the States.

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But don’t expect the maker to simply come in and undercut the competition, notably “value-priced” brands like Hyundai and Kia, she told the Bloomberg News Service.

“BYD has become more fashionable and we have improved our design and safety. We don’t want to compete on price anymore, but on quality and innovation,” Li said, during an interview of Shenzhen, China.

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Chinese Auto Market Could Soon be Larger than US, Europe Combined

But skeptics warn China's boom could go bust.

by on Apr.22, 2013

The Buick Riviera Concept.

Ford and General Motors are charging forward into the past this week at the Shanghai Auto Show, reviving two once-familiar nameplates in a bid to build market share in what has become the world’s largest automotive market.

The Ford Escort and Buick Riviera are just concept vehicles for now, but both offer hints of what the two U.S. manufacturers may have in store for Chinese consumers.  Indeed, once little more than a backwater event, the Shanghai gathering is this year one of the world’s most significant car shows, with dozens of new vehicles making their global debut there.

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And for good reason – by at least one estimate, the Chinese automotive market could soon be larger than the U.S. and European markets combined. By 2022, forecast senior GM officials, sales in the People’s Republic could top 35 million annually. That’s more than double the peak hit in the American market nearly a decade ago.

No surprise, then, that Tim Lee, the president of GM’s International Operations, told reporters that, “No market is more critical than the China market for us.”

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Qoros: Chinese-Israeli Partners Aim to Challenge Auto Industry’s Established Order

Europe key, but will U.S. remain “secondary” to Qoros’ plans?

by on Mar.14, 2013

The Qoros 3 on display in Geneva.

It’s the world’s biggest car market, yet, when it comes to fully-assembled automotive exports, China is little more than a minor player.  But a new and unusual consortium pairing one of the Asian nation’s more ambitious domestic makers with an Israeli billionaire hopes to convince buyers around the world that Chinese cars don’t have to be cheap, shoddy and unsafe.

The product of a 50/50 joint venture between Chery Automobile and Idan Ofer’s Israel Corp., Shanghai-based Qoros Auto Co., Ltd. Made a splashy debut at this month’s Geneva Motor Show with a trio of concept vehicles it has spent the last five years pulling together.

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While Chery is one of China’s largest homegrown brands, the partners decided to reach outside for help in crafting a product line-up that could compete on a global scale. That was a costly but potentially significant decision considering that the current crop of domestic Chinese products don’t stack up well against the offerings of the established automotive order, whether from Honda, Hyundai, Chevrolet or Volkswagen.

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Desperate for Turnaround, Daimler Names New China Chief

Mercedes slipping behind rivals in booming Asian market.

by on Dec.14, 2012

Daimler's new China chief, Hubertus Troska.

Daimler AG, in a move underscoring the growing importance of China to the company’ future, has named a new chief executive in charge of its operations in China and appointed him to the company’s Board of Management.

Hubertus Troska, 52, will become chief executive officer and Chairman of Daimler Northeast Asia responsible for all of Daimler’s strategic and operating activities in China.

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The timing is particularly significant considering the company has slipped in sales behind arch rivals Audi and BMW. Mercedes has had to resort to sometimes massive incentives to prop up its products this year.

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China’s Largest Automaker Opens Detroit Office

Could SAIC eventually target U.S. market?

by on Jul.02, 2012

Chinese automaker SAIC opens a new outpost in the Detroit suburbs.

China’s largest automaker has opened a new outpost in the Detroit suburbs to build closer ties with one of its principal partners, General Motors  – as well as some of the other North American automakers and suppliers.

Shanghai Automotive Industries Corporation USA Inc. expects to have 100 employees in its new operations center in Birmingham, Michigan, one of Detroit’s principal suburbs.  What that means in the long-term, especially with the Chinese expected to eventually target the American market, remains an unanswered question.

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Cooperation between U.S. and Chinese automotive companies is increasingly important in the new global automotive marketplace, SAIC Motor Chairman Maoyuan Hu said in a statement Friday.

Maoyuan said the opening of the new North American Operations Center in Birmingham marks an important step in creating a stronger ties between the US and Chinese automotive industries. With the increasing importance of cooperation between the major global automotive markets, this move by SAIC to strengthen its US presence is significant, he said.

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China Will Impose Anti-Dumping Duties on U.S. Cars

Asian giant fires back after U.S. penalizes Chinese-made tires.

by on Dec.15, 2011

Even some German cars made in the U.S., like the Mercedes-Benz M-Class, will be facing duties.

The threat of a trade war appears to be looming large with China’s warning that it plans to impose anti-dumping duties on American automobiles – a  move that could have a particularly harsh impact on General Motors, the largest manufacturer in the booming Chinese auto industry.

But slightly smaller new duties also will be imposed on products exported to China by Chrysler, as well as from U.S. plants operated by BMW and Mercedes-Benz.

The Chinese announcement comes three months after the World Trade Organization (WTO) upheld the U.S. decision to impose duties on Chinese tire imports – and some see the move as a warning to Washington where further actions are under debate to nudge China into letting its currency rise closer to free market levels.

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The new tariffs will affect vehicles with engines larger than 2.5 liters in size, and would range from 2.0% on BMW models and 2.7% on Mercedes, to 12.9% for GM products imported from the U.S. Chrysler would face an 8.8% tariff, according to the Chinese Ministry of Commerce.

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Saab Deal Could Open U.S. Doors to $10,000 Chinese Vehicle

Will Swedish tie finally give China an entry into coveted American market?

by on May.12, 2011

Saab could distribute a $10,000 Chinese-made car in the U.S., says Chairman Muller.

Seemingly every year for much of the past decade, one or more of the ambitious Chinese automakers has paid cash for a spot at Detroit’s North American International Auto Show, promising to soon have a product ready for the U.S. market.  This past January, BYD outlined plans to open up a limited distribution network with dealers that would sell not only cars but solar generators and high-efficiency light bulbs.

So far, none of the brands has made the jump across the Pacific, whether due to quality, safety, pricing or other concerns.  In fact, one of the biggest challenges for an automotive wannabe is simply setting up an American distribution network.  So, tying up with an established brand could be the critical step needed for a maker, say Hawtai Automotive Group, that doesn’t want to wait any longer.

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And Hawtai may have just bought into one of those established brands, having spent 120 million Euros to acquire a 29.9% stake in cash-starved Saab, (while also offering the Swedish maker another 30 million Euro loan).

One of the reasons Saab Chairman Victor Muller agreed to the deal was to gain access to the booming Chinese market.  But Hawtai, it seems, sees Saab as a way to get into the U.S., according to a report in the trade journal, Automotive News.

Muller said Saab could start distributing a Chinese-made product that would be priced as low as $10,000, and which could start showing up in the States within two to three years.

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BYD Will Sell You LED Bulbs With Your e6 Battery Car

Chinese maker's dealerships will be an all-in-one outlet for the green-minded motorist.

by on Jan.11, 2011

Will the long-delayed BYD e6 finally reach the American market in 2012?

After a series of delays, Chinese automaker BYD is finally getting ready for its formal U.S. retail launch, company officials declared during a news conference at the Detroit Auto Show.

And the truly green-minded motorist will find more than just the e6 battery car and F3DM hybrid once the first in a planned network of regional showrooms open up in early 2012, they proclaimed.  BYD – which stands for “Build Your Dreams” –  wants those outlets to be something of an environmentally-friendly superstore, offering not only battery cars but the solar generation system that can provide power and even LED light bulbs to cut the energy needs of a motorists’ home.

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“Our vision is not just cars,” explained Chuan-fu Wang, BYD’s founder and chairman, speaking through an interpreter.  The goal is to provide, “a truly zero-emission solution, not just for transferring emissions” from the tailpipe to the smokestack.

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Change Coming for Volvo – But How Much?

Chinese owners certain to play with “new toy.”

by on Jan.18, 2010

Even after a takeover by Geely, models like the XC70 will remain the heart of the Volvo line-up, asserts CEO Stephen Odell.

Like a kid after Christmas, expect to see the Chinese automaker Geely “play” with its “new toy,” should its planned acquisition of Volvo Cars go through, said the Swedish maker’s top executive.

New production operations in China, as well as a Asian design and engineering center are most likely to follow Ford’s planned sale of its Volvo subsidiary, according to CEO Stephen Odell.  But the long-time Ford executive said he believes Geely will largely hold course with its new global brand.

Late last month, Ford confirmed long-standing rumors, revealing that it had reached agreement, “on all substantive terms,” with Zhejiang Geely Holding Group, one of the strongest and most ambitious of China’s independent automakers.

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The proposed sale should be completed by the second quarter of this year, Odell predicted, during an interview with TheDetroitBureau.com.  The transfer would come at a critical time for Volvo, which has been hit hard, over the last several years, by the global recession and problems more particular to the brand.

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Marty’s Marketing Minutia

Changes, comment, commercial, content and China.

by on Oct.23, 2009

Nissan Refreshes and Updates its 2010 Sedans

A $400 navi should help build demand for the 2010 Nissan Sentra.

A $400 navi should help build demand for the 2010 Nissan Sentra.

Light trucks may still be a critical segment of the American market, but passenger cars for Nissan are down just 18.6% compared to the industry’s drop of 26%, so far this year and are a very important category to the company. Despite the economic climate Nissan has increased its total market share to 6.7%, for the calendar-year-to-date, and has made a major investment to “refresh and update” its sedans, Maxima, Altima, Versa and Sentra.

Citing extensive enhancements to their exteriors – a family resemblance in grills and front fascias — and interiors, along with new content packages and an emphasis on value, technology and entertainment – every model has been updated to some degree. Here are the key changes:

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Maxima  — new 7” color video display for Navi and other technologies, including the new rearview camera, a 2GB music server, iPod net, DVD playback, Bluetooth, streaming audio and XM Nav/Weather, USB connectivity, and two new exterior colors.

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