Stop us if you've heard this one before: "The Chinese are coming." According to Automotive News, Great Wall Motor Co. plans to sell its vehicles in the US by around 2015. The Chinese automaker has been researching its planned expansion for the last two years, looking at everything from regulatory hurdles to establishing a dealer network, as well as customer needs and wants.
Although it isn't immediately clear what models the company plans to market here in the US, it is apparently looking at establishing a factory stateside. The company currently sells its wares in 76 countries and regions around the globe, but has yet to attempt to crack the US or Canada. Great Wall may be China's largest purveyor of SUVs, but it has a full lineup of models to choose from – it brought 26 vehicles to last weekend's press day for the Shanghai Motor Show, including a stand-alone section for its Haval brand of SUVs.
Of course, the Asian nation's automakers have been promising to bring their vehicles to the US market for years now, but to date, not one has made a full-fledged effort. Not Chery, not Changfeng, not anybody. At the moment, the only Chinese-built cars sold in North America are Honda Fit models, and they are only available in Canada (however, General Motors recently opened the door to importing their own Chinese-built models).
Having said all that, Great Wall is one of China's most respected and most financially established automakers, and it has a lot of experience building factories in other markets (admittedly mostly knock-down plants), as well as exporting vehicles. It seems all but inevitable that Chinese automakers will eventually offer vehicles to US consumers in real volume, but for the moment, there's still a lot of debate about how quickly that reality will set in. To wit, a recent study by Bernstein Research suggested that Chinese automakers still have a decade or more of development before they will be able to field globally competitive products.