Chinese car makers are looking to the west for another source of revenue and to begin the hard fight to establish themselves as reputable brands. But there is a big problem. Korean manufacturers are already taking the budget end of the market so if China wants to succeed they need to be different.
It seems that unlike Brilliance which went head first into a 1-star safety rating and consequently a dismal failure in Europe, other Chinese manufacturers are bidding their time before spending millions on the move.
One such company Chinese company is BYD Auto Co. a subsidiary of BYD, which has been producing lithium ion batteries for mobile phones since the mid ’90s and is today the world’s largest supplier of nickel-cadmium batteries for consumer products.
So what sort of car will a battery company produce? A hybrid.
Our strategy is to present ourselves as a green company, we want our cars to be seen as offering new technology at a good price.” said BYD President Wang Chuanfu at the Detroit auto show.
In case you are confused and wondering how Chinese manufacturers are planning hybrid cars when some of the leading western automakers are still struggling with the idea, the answer is simple, no Chinese automaker has yet started mass production of an electric or hybrid vehicle – thanks to huge technical challenges.
Another Chinese manufacturer following the same line of thought is Geely. The company has developed the Hifun hybrid and is working on not only hybrid but electric cars as well.
Furthermore the company has developed a tyre blowout monitoring and braking system that can apparently help prevent accidents if a tyre fails. According to Geely the system is nothing short of “a breakthrough in automobile safety“.
Chinese manufacturers will only have one shot at making a good first impression in the west. It will only take a few unit failures and the entire operation will be unsuccessful.
“We have new technology, U.S. consumers don’t understand the Geely brand, so we need to make a good first impression.” said Geely Chairman Li Shifu.
In reality if Chinese automakers wanted to enter the US market armed with a secret weapon, they would all be looking at electric cars. Who wouldn’t buy a car that uses no fuel?
BYD is working on just such a thing and has publicly stated that a new energy car will be on the road in China this year, without specifying what kind of energy.
So what will it take for Chinese manufacturers to win your heart? An electric car? Hybrid? Improved safety?