We've heard for years that Chinese automakers hoped one day to export their wares to the United States. Ironically, the global economic slowdown could be what gives the Chinese incentive to finally make it happen.

Chinese automakers ramped up production capacity to meet surging demand at home only to see the local economic conditions slow from 30 percent growth in 2010 to just 2.5 percent in 2011. On top of that, the Chinese auto marketplace has now become crowded with foreign and domestic competitors.

"The rapid growth phase of China's auto market is coming to an end, and we see exports as one possible outlet for all the capacity we have built up," Xing Wenlin, Great Wall Motor vice president in charge of overseas markets, tells Reuters. Great Wall's Phenom concept (pictured above) was shown a few years ago as a possible export model.

While most Chinese-made cars aren't up to American quality expectations, developing automotive markets like Egypt, Ukraine, Brazil and Indonesia are clamoring for cheap, reliable transportation. Chinese automaker Chery said earlier this year it would be selling cars in Europe by 2015.

Geely's purchase of Volvo in 2010 has boosted the Chinese company's automotive technology expertise and could help it achieve its goal of doubling exports to 70,000 units this year. While the U.S. is still out of reach for most Chinese automakers, Geely may begin selling a Chinese-made car in the UK by the end of this year. If successful there, a logical next market would be North America.

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