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.
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.