Chinese automaker sets sights on U.S. market for 2007

Jan. 1, 2020
Chery, Visionary Vehicles want to sell 2 million units and level the auto industry?s playing field.

If Malcolm Bricklin has his way, the “Made In China” stamp will be emblazoned on vehicles sold in the United States as early as next year. And he says he’s poised to be the first in a pack of Chinese ventures to do so.

The CEO of Visionary Vehicles has readjusted a planned stateside launch of the Chinese-made Chery automobile, but when the time does come, he’s aiming for an ambitious 2 million units to be sold here, with the first million made at the Chery factory in Wuhu, China, and the second million made in the United States.

Bricklin boasts that the vehicles will carry the luxury of an Audi or BMW for a lower price tag than a Camry.

“We’re trying to build a company that levels the playing field in the automotive industry,” he says.

The company is attempting to gain momentum and eventually rival the force of other import automakers in the U.S.

If successfully launched, the lower priced Chinese vehicles stand to have a drastic effect on parts prices in the aftermarket, says Bricklin.

Bricklin is still assembling a team of interested dealerships to fly the Visionary Vehicles LLC banner, and he has yet to finalize a joint venture agreement with Chery Automobile Co.

Another unknown is what brand name will be selected. Bricklin has agreed not to use Chery in the U.S. due to its perceived similarity to the Chevy moniker.

Hurdles are being cleared

Bricklin and Tim Ciasulli, CEO of Planet Honda and head of the Visionary Vehicles Dealer Board, recently visited Chery’s manufacturing facilities in China.

“When I saw the world-class quality of the Chery factories and the quality of the current automobiles, I was blown away,” said Ciasulli in a release. “If I wasn’t there myself, I would never have believed that the American public is going to have the opportunity to buy top of the line, fully loaded cars for 30 percent lower than the current pricing available from Detroit today.”

Chery and Visionary cleared one of its largest hurdles last November: a settlement between the carmaker and GM over piracy accusations. GM Daewoo Auto & Technology accused Chery’s QQ of being an illegal duplication of its Maiz, licensed as the Chevy Spark.

Though Bricklin has said he would like to introduce as many as five models, it’s unlikely that many models will gain approval for sale in the U.S. right away.

“We’re planning on introducing a new model every couple months. We have in the works right now five models; we’re also working on a hybrid and an upscale model.”

Another obstacle the automaker faces is the rigorous safety standards that must be cleared before selling cars in the U.S.

Visionary Vehicles will likely not be the only one introducing Chinese cars in the U.S. as China boasts dozens of automakers.

In fact, Geely Holding Group will have a presence at this month’s Detroit Auto Show, the first time a Chinese carmaker will appear at the show in its 98-year history, according to China Automotive Review.

Geely, which sent 12 cars to the U.S. for DOT certification, plans to export 1.2 million vehicle units in 2015.

There is still speculation over when a Chinese-made vehicle will officially be sold in North America, but the U.S. will definitely be a battleground in years to come.

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