• Jan 11, 2007
Changfeng Motor Company took a pair each of SUVs and pickup trucks to the NAIAS in Detroit as a first salvo at attacking the US market. Changfeng is a state-owned manufacturer that used to build vehicles for the Chinese army. Before you walk away snickering, consider this; Changfeng is hot to start exports to the US within 3 years, they claim they can meet US standards for emissions and safety, and they've enlisted the design hand of Pininfarina. A bargain-priced Italian-styled vehicle with a high level of content like all the power gee-gaws buyers want like nav, DVD screens, etc. has the potential to be a quick seller. From what we've seen, they're not there yet. The Feibao CT5 (shown above) reminds us of a late '80s Hyundai in material quality and fit and finish. Changfeng will get there, but there's lots of work still to be done. There is no US sales organization, nevermind a dealer network, and the product had best be up to par when it finally appears for sale here. There's also the issue of perception. China is, after all, the country that is siphoning tons of jobs world wide because of their rock-bottom labor costs. There's resentment, as well as real and percieved quality issues to overcome. We have no doubt, though, once these vehicles hit the market, some US buyers will forget all about their gripes and buy on price if the vehicles approach acceptability. Maybe they could even partner with Wal-Mart to sell them?

[Source: Drive.com.au]


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  • 24 Comments
      • 8 Years Ago
      As Karl Marx once wrote, "when it comes time to hang capitalism, we'll find a capitalist to sell us the rope".
      • 8 Years Ago
      Let me make one other point. If it weren't for Communism pushing China back several decades, China would probably be the most dominant economic power already. Be careful what you wish for. Chinese are especially adept at business. When China gets on track, the power being unleashed may be more than you can handle.
      • 8 Years Ago
      A bunch of self-righteous postings here. Chinese products are sold everywhere already, from Walmart to Nordstrom's. As long as the product is competitively priced, consumers will be agnostic to political, ethical, or idealogical issues. None of these things matter. Never have, never will. Americans bought plenty of VW Beetles, which was designed by Hitler. Toyota begin selling cars in the U.S. market in the 50's, just a decade after the Japanese military was killing and raping all over Asia.
      In a global market economy, it's not about saving jobs. I wouldn't buy a crap American car just because it will save someone's job. I buy something because the purchase benefits me in some way. Market forces are bigger than political idealogy, and bigger than Communism. Precisely for this reason, the Communists are trying to sell cars these days instead of practicing communism.
      • 8 Years Ago
      This is AutoBlog...isn't it? Some of these posts, including their VERY bad spelling (persecusion?) read like something out of MAD magazine.

      I really loved the rationalization of paying slave wages for work in "underdeveloped" countries. That is, it's good that these folks receive an almost token wage...instead of no wage? I watched a PBS special last night in which it said that workers in some consumer electronics factories in China are paid the equivalent of $26 per WEEK...working a job for 12 hours a day, 5 and 6 days a week. The result of this is that folks the world over can buy a DVD player for $45 instead of ...$85. If you turn this around, the "demand" for cheap goods in countries like the U.S. means that workers (here and elsewhere) will ALWAYS have their wages squeezed by corporations like Wal-Mart.

      Finally, to get back to the subject at hand, I agree with the posters who say "what is the point of sending yet another pickup or SUV into the already crowded market?" If low price REALLY did guarantee success, YUGO would be the number 1 car company in the U.S.
      • 8 Years Ago
      My willingness to trade is conditional, but not set in stone. Japan is a far different country from what it was 65 years ago. Our trade with them is mutually beneficial. My argument is not based on grudges, but current realities. That line of reasoning could be used to justify not buying Mercedes SUV's because Alabama once had slaves doing the labor. The south Is different now. So is Germany and Japan. I single out Toyota in particular, not just as a marker of a modern, post-Imperial Japan (the Emperor is just a figurehead, much like the queen of England), but as an example of a foreign auto manufacturer who is a big producer in our economy, not just a bargain wares seller.

      Of course the moods in a country change rapidly. Were the Japanese to suddenly experience a resurgence of bellicose nationalism and saber rattling, I would definitely rethink my decision.

      But remember, not grudges, but realities.
      • 8 Years Ago
      James,

      It's hardly a tirade--just an observation and a moral choice. I do have a life and a need for economy. I don't drive a Ford Focus because I like it better than a mini; I drive it because I can afford it! Hopefully, slaves only built a few parts of it.

      Uh, how is my desire to vote my conscience with my dollars a marker of Communism?

      I enjoy these boards, but there sure are a lot of flamers hanging around...
      • 8 Years Ago
      I googled Chang Feng. If you're curious about quality control...just look at their website.

      http://www.cfmotors.com/doce/aboutus/profile.asp

      They misspelled the word Product in the main menu bar at the top. "Proudct" And before some flamer claims it's meant to be spelled that way...the link is product.asp, so spare me.

      Sigh.
      • 8 Years Ago
      They'll need to hire a decent American marketing firm first. I'll treasure the DVD they handed out at the show forever because of its unintended humor.

      There are actually three videos on the disc. The first was shown at the show. The second is the same, with four extra minutes of footage (total of 13). The third is the same as the second, but in Chinese.

      So, they simply took a video made for the Chinese market, literally translated it into English, then trimmed it to fit the available time slot. You know, the first thing they tell you in B-school not to do when trying to sell in a foreign country.

      The results include this concluding paragraph:

      "The new century has started. Dragons are taking off in the new millienum, and cheetahs are leaping forward in the new century. Dragons are taking off to indicate the resurrection of China as a nation. Cheetahs are leaping forward to present a powerful auto industrial village. With world's leading technologies to build a leading brand on the SUV market in China, Changfeng Group."

      This and odd bits from the information sheets they handed out in my post about the second day of the show:

      http://www.truedelta.com/pieces/naias2.php

      May everyone feel full of momentum and great dignity!
      • 8 Years Ago
      It's only AFTER you been working a while that you start thinking you're underpaid. Unions promote and count on the idea. Slave wages are only because it's less then we make. It could be because we pay inflated prices. Working for any kind of wages is a blessing to those earning none.

      I have to agree that the last thing North America needs is another SUV. Pickups truck selection is limited, however.
      • 8 Years Ago
      Hey Barney ,,your entitled to your opinion.I have no Idea WTF your point was .Get your facts straight,we don't send any more aid to china,the softwood deal was settled,not perfect but it got done.Obviously you didn't get my point.I'll simplify it for you."Building Industry In our Contries here is a good thing,buying products made by people who get fair wages is ok.Suporting slave labour is bad.......
      • 8 Years Ago
      #1 - Get a life. Nobody cares about your political tirade. On the other hand, to turn your post around, did you ever stop to think that the consumers that only care about the bottom line bring about a need for low cost manufacturing? Where would we be if there were no countries in the world that provided cheap products for the rest of the developed economies? For instance, would you pay 5x the price for the T-Shirt you're wearing? Certainly, it is possible that everybody would be worse off due to lower real GDP if we all subscribed to your communist economics.

      I think your intentions are commendable - to help workers in poverty - but, you have to realize that cheap goods do in fact help US economy by spurring consumption and minimizing inflation.
      • 8 Years Ago
      Many Americans, if not most, have voted with their wallets in deciding to buy Chinese made consumer goods. As long as these trucks/suvs are of decent quality, no need need to be class leading, and they are dirt cheap, they will find buyers. I believe they pose more of a threat to the Japanese in the full-size pickup market, as the Japanese have not yet established a loyal base. In small SUVs and pickups, the domestics are vulnerable, as their products are lagging...Ford, do you hear the footsteps?
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