First Chinese Car Goes On Sale In North America

December 22, 2011
For years, we've reported several Chinese automakers' intentions sell cars in North America.  Producers like Brilliance, Chery and Geely made it clear they want a presence in the market.

Even electric-car startup Coda looked like a lock for first Chinese car on sale here, until they stressed final assembly would take place in California.

It's rather a moot point, since the first Chinese car is now on sale here in North America.  

Before you look for newly-opened showrooms from the aforementioned manufacturers, The New York Times suggests you look instead to Honda dealers--in Canada.  As of this month, Honda Canada's incoming Fit inventory comes from the same Chinese plant that builds them for Europe and other markets, where the cars wear the Jazz badge.

Reasoning behind the shift is simple: it's all about the Yenjamins.  The yen is strong and profit margins aren't as thick as Honda would prefer.  Offshore production will shore that up.  But since Honda's new $800 million plant in Celaya, Guanajuato, Mexico won't be online until 2014, this is the stop-gap solution.  

Meanwhile, our curious Canadian friends can confirm a new Fit's place of birth with a quick peek at the VIN.  Chinese cars' IDs begin with "L", while Japanese models' are "J".  Will they detect any differences otherwise? 

And will the Chinese cars go to U.S. dealers? 

"L" no, says Honda.

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