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Geely Coming To U.S. In 2016: Are Americans Ready For Chinese Cars?

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China's auto market is booming. Despite some signs of a slowdown, sales remain very, very strong, showing double-digit gains.

One of the big dogs in China's marketplace is Geely, best known to Westerners as the owner of Volvo. In fact, according to AutoNews, Geely is getting so big that it plans to sell cars in the U.S. by the year 2016 -- and the automaker is betting that its association with Volvo will lead to huge success with American shoppers.

But will it? Are Americans ready to buy Chinese cars?

A LONG ROW TO HOE

We applaud audacity, but Geely will likely have a very, very tough time making inroads in the U.S.

For starters, it's Chinese, and to generations of Americans, "Made in China" has meant "Cheap, poorly made crap". There's no reason that the country's image can't be improved -- after all, we're talking about the country that built the Great Wall centuries before Columbus sailed to North America. China has a long history of excellent craftsmanship, which could, in theory, be revived. 

But that won't happen overnight. It'll take a lot of re-branding, and it will require many companies working together. Geely will have to overcome China's decades of self-imposed isolation -- not to mention concerns about China's labor practices and human rights abuses.

Unfortunately, there aren't many instructive examples that Geely can follow on the automotive front. In the best-case scenario, it would perform as well as Hyundai and Kia, which toiled for about 20 years before gaining mainstream acceptance in the U.S. (And it might've taken even longer if the two hadn't been helped Samsung and other respected companies, which reshaped America's idea of what "Made in South Korea" really meant.)

In the worst-case scenario, Geely would tank like Coda.

The unknown in this discussion is how Geely's cars will be marketed. According to news reports, these hypothetical vehicles will have been "co-developed" with Volvo -- which, given Volvo's lackluster U.S. sales and quality scores, may not help. 

This could translate to a new brand for Geely -- not that it would matter much, since few Americans know of Geely anyway. (That became painfully obvious several years ago when Geely made its first attempt to enter the U.S. market. but aborted because customers didn't know or trust the brand.)  Either way, Geely will need to carry out some brand education in addition to its larger message of superior Chinese quality.

Would you consider a Geely -- or any Chinese car, for that matter? Sound off in the comments below. 

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Comments (20)
  1. If you need proof that Americans will buy any POS if the price is right, just look at Yugo. Or even Hyundai or Kia in the early days. To quote P.T.Barnum: "There's a sucker born every day." The better comparison would be how the Chinese companies have done in Europe... not good. And the Europeans are even less principled as consumers than the Yanks!
     
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  2. Who wants to make odds on how long Geely will last here if they do come here? The U.S. is a very competitive market and they'll either have to come in super cheap (which I fully expect if they do) and then do as Hyundai did and steadily improve quality or die a quick and painful automotive death. Personally, I'm thinking they'll be the next Yugo, Suzuki and Daewoo. Here for awhile, set up a dealer network, sell a few vehicles and then leave the market, closing dealerships and leaving those who where (I won't say brave but willing to take a chance) to buy in the first place left high and dry with a vehicle the can't service or get parts for in the future.
     
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  3. The used car market could use an alternative so these car's would have to priced well under $10k and then consumers would buy anything.A $7,500. sub compact would sell with a good warranty .The issue is brand building and China is seen as under handed .If they can sell an honest decent safe car it will change our perception.I am not sure Geely can do that.
     
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  4. Well Geely will have to deliver "on-quality" right from the start or it will be even more difficult. If they can introduce a quality car, they have a shot at it. I don't think cheap and cheerful will be the right approach.

    Introducing a very unreliable car to the US market will likely be a waste of Geely's time and resources. They will not get anywhere.

    But under the right conditions, China delivers world class manufacturing quality. Let's not forget that they make our iphones and Li-Ion batteries (good) as well as cheap plastic toys (bad). It all depends on what their goals are.
     
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  5. "MADE IN CHINA" still means cheap, poorly made crap, with no regard for quality or attention to detail whatsoever.

    Everything I own that has been made in China so far has either broken, or does not work correctly. Having lived in Europe where things were of very high quality and designed to last centuries and many generations, that is simply unheard of, that someone would even dare to make such cheap junk, let alone not care whether what they make is quality or not.

    The Chinese take no pride in their work, and their craftsmanship and attention to detail is nonexistent.
     
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  6. This IS a problem.
    And I disagree.
    Excessive cheapness and dishonesty are the problems....not Chinese quality.
     
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  7. Not only would China have to improve relations with its workers, it would have to improve relationships with the U.S. and its Citizens. We are not going to buy cars from the "enemy" or anyone who would wish us harm or do us harm.
     
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  8. Our "enemy" is NOT the Chinese.
    It is our hatred and fear.
     
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  9. With one and a half billion people peaceful trade with PRC is critical. They are not naive. Geely just invested in some of the worlds best automotive engineers and unlike GM they are leaving Volvo alone and cultivating Volvo prowess. This gives them a major headstart. I see great things from Volvo as well.
     
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  10. .
    How soon we forget.....same things were said of Honda, Toyota, Subaru, and look at them, today.
     
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  11. just wondering does our government demand that they own 50% of the company and they have to built here with slave labor.
     
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  12. Elaborate, please.
    "slave labor ?"
    punctuation ?
     
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  13. No
     
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  14. Will Americans buy them? History says "yes"; just look at the Chinese scooters marketed in the last few years. Yup, Cheap Crap is the term most of those in the community use, but "cheap" somehow always seems to win out over "crap", and the Chinese are nothing if not fast learners. Writing this right now on my lovely Apple iPad...
     
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  15. As good as many of the foreign car are, I will go to my grave having bought only General Motors, Chrysler and Ford cars.
     
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  16. In 10 to 15 years from now I may take a close look. I took a look at the Hyundai Genesis in 2009 and said they had a lot a long road to hoe. Then in 2012 I bought a Genesis and haven't regretted it. Love that 3.8 V6 and that 8 speed automatic. And lots of room inside,especially rear leg room.
     
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  17. But, will the Hyundai last as my '96 Saab has ? ...or the '97 Honda ?
     
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  18. having direct experience with a china car brand, U.S. distribution is in the near future. the new platforms of products are designed & engineered internationally, thus have what it takes to meet U.S. requirements and customer demands. Component suppliers for China brand vehicles are also international so they bring their expertise to these new vehicles. Brand building is the tipping point and how a company enters the U.S. market as a new brand will require a breakout strategy like Hyundai's 'America's Best Warranty'. Price will be the ticket for entry, but how a China brand takes care of their new owners will be the long term secret to success in the most competitive, unforgiving auto market in the world.
     
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  19. If China is going to own us, I am going to own them. I have a pile of shares and will sit on them for 10 years or more. This company is not dumb, they are in 30 countries and are growing by leaps and bounds. They have European five star crash and service ratings. I have not read a bad review yet. I truly believe Geely has learned from Kia and Hyundai's early mistakes and is determined to avoid them. Buying Volvo, London Taxi, and Drive Systems International gives them exposure and a much shorter learning curve than previous foreign entries.
     
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  20. Looks to be or appears to be a copy of a Saab...
    It is clumsy , out of proportion..akin to the drawing game, famed by children...and funny as hell...
    If the Chinese cannot be original, cannot innovate, then, they are doomed to being dependent on a hard cruel world.
     
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