Chinese automaker Brilliance also has a position on the main show floor of Detroit this year—even though it sells no cars in the U.S.
Although the automaker didn’t make any major model at the show, the company admitted that it was a learning experience. With the clearly looking to reach U.S. market standard for its cars, they’re testing the market “as a touchstone to evaluate product quality.”
Brailliance established itself in the 1990s with the best-selling minibus in China, and it has a joint venture with BMW. Also, it smartly has reached outward to other global automakers for their expertise—especially in design, resisting the more cobbled-together derivative looks of some other Chinese automakers. Their portfolio includes Giugiaro styling, Porsche chassis technology, and Toyota assembly methods.
Four different models were brought out by the automaker at a press conference. The M1 is a sedan with Giugiaro styling but is a little more luxurious and conservative, described as “grand and solemn.” Then there’s what Brilliance terms “the Chinese BMW,” the M2, a sporty sedan bringing Porsche chassis tuning. Brilliance also termed it the “national excellence vehicle.” The M3 is their sporty coupe, and the FRV is a sleek and sporty four-door hatchback model.
Overall, TheCarConnection.com notes that the cars on the Brilliance stand are the best we’ve seen so far for apparent assembly quality, panel gaps, and interior materials. What’s more, the interiors don’t look overly derivative—thanks, no doubt to plenty of help from design house Giugiaro. We especially liked the FRV hatchback and think, at least in terms of packaging, that it would make a good potential competitor to the Kia Rio and the like.
Brilliance has hinted for several years now that it hopes to enter the U.S. market, but the company released no new information about how or when that might happen. The automaker already sells its cars in the EU, Egypt, Russia, Southeast Asia, and other regions and countries. Crash-testing could prove to be an especially difficult step here.
For now, our best chances of seeing a Brilliance product are likely through an agreement with another automaker. But with many major automakers missing from Detroit and Brilliance conducting a very credible—though barely newsworthy—press conference, the times are changing.