Bricklin, Chery Call It Quits

Malcolm Bricklin has confirmed that his plans to haveChina's Chery Automobile build him a car for distribution in the United States are off.


Reports of the Bricklin-Chery rupture have been circulating for more than two weeks. Bricklin, the chairman and chief executive of Visionary Vehicles, said Chery will not build a car for Visionary to distribute in the United States .


When he launched the venture two years ago, Bricklin had predicted that Chery would be able to deliver a low-priced vehicle to American consumers by the end of the decade. With the partnership with Chery defunct, Bricklin said he planned to move forward with a continuing focus on Chinese manufacturers as well as U.S. and European design and engineering firms to bring affordable luxury to the U.S. market.


"We have great respect and admiration for President Yin Tongyao and Chery, but we are no longer negotiating exclusively with them," Bricklin said.


The decision comes after months of evaluation and study amid continued concerns for manufacturing five-star quality products within a finite timeline, Bricklin said.


“The crux of our decision came from the realization that the Chinese need to learn that you can not develop cars for the Chinese domestic market and then upgrade them for the North American Market,” stated Bricklin, who brought the Subaru and Yugo brands to U.S. under earlier automotive retailing ventures. “You must instead, build for the North American market and then de-option for other markets, never having two standards for quality since great quality is the only option,” Bricklin said.


"Chinese manufacturers have continued to mature and as they have done so, we realized that there was great value in capitalizing on the strengths each had to offer," continued Bricklin. “As we have learned, our success is dependent on Visionary Vehicles being responsible for all aspects of design, engineering, and safety and emission regulations while developing manufacturer relationships to support those goals," he said.


Bricklin said he has met with several Chinese manufacturers to discuss future involvement.


"I am totally impressed by the level of interest on the part of the Chinese manufacturers, including Chery, to do what it takes to be competitive in China 's evolving market and globally as well,” said Bricklin.


Bricklin said he isn't giving up on his China venture. Bricklin's Visionary Vehicles will design a line of automobiles developed in concert with design/engineering firms to be formally retained early in the New Year. In addition, Bricklin said he was in the midst of discussions with several Chinese automakers interested, willing, and able "to build a factory to manufacture cars designed and engineered to our vision and specifications,” Bricklin said.


Bricklin also said Visionary Vehicles-signed dealers haven't abandoned the project, which hinges on delivering a vehicle to customers with a price other manufacturers can't match.


“From a strategic perspective, I was very encouraged to hear that Malcolm is not limiting the company to a single manufacturer,” said Visionary Vehicles dealer Tim Ciasulli, "It has become clear that we are in a position to develop vehicles that are perfect for our brand. Redefining the price of luxury and taking control of our destiny makes a lot of sense.”


There are now more than 100 different vehicle manufacturers operating in China but only about 15 are considered large enough to raise the financial and intellectual capital needed to export vehicles. Also most of the larger Chinese companies already have North American, Japanese, or European partners.


Chery, in fact, is currently being courted by DaimlerChrysler, which has sought its help in developing a subcompact model for the Chrysler Group, a model that could be built in China and sold in the U.S.


Related Articles


Bricklin Won’t Sell Chinese Cherys in U.S. by Joseph Szczesny (11/27/2006)
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GM Unfazed by Chinese Partner's Plans by Joseph Szczesny (11/20/2006)
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Dunne: Who's Afraid of the Chinese Wolf? by Michael J. Dunne (3/27/2006)
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