Chinese automakers have been making noise about entering the North American market for years, stretching back a decade or more. A combination of factors – from the disjointed nature of the Chinese auto industry to lingering quality issues – have kept that from happening, but the day when Chinese cars roam the Great American Road may finally be upon us.

Following aborted efforts by such automakers as Geely and Great Wall, it's BYD that appears to be leading the charge this time. The company backed by investor Warren Buffett's Berkshire Hathaway conglomerate is now targeting 2015 – just a year away from now – to start selling cars in the United States. It wouldn't be the first time BYD has talked about entering the US market, though. It previously targeted an American launch in 2010, only to end up missing that target. Following a three-year restructuring plan led by its billionaire chairman Wang Chuanfu, however, BYD is looking to be in better shape.

The company already has a presence in North America, selling electric buses, and is preparing to begin manufacturing them in California within the next few months. Whether it can use that foothold to springboard into cars we can buy and drive by next year (like the above-pictured E6 it displayed at the 2009 Detroit Auto Show), however, remains to be seen.


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  • 74 Comments
      askroon
      • 11 Months Ago
      By 2015? Very unlikely...
        JaredN
        • 11 Months Ago
        @askroon
        Exactly. China is both the largest and fastest growing car market. Will they eventually have domestic automakers that build compelling vehicles? Yes. Will those manufacturers eventually export successfully to the US market? Yes. But will BYD be selling cars in the US in any numbers by 2015? Unlikely. Homologating vehicles for sales in the US is not easy (we're looking at you, Mahindra) -- crash test and EPA standards are difficult and expensive to meet. Just having a vehicle that is legal to sell is not enough -- they also have to have dealers, a distribution system, a parts distribution system, trained mechanics, etc. Will BYD get from here to there by the end of this year? I doubt it.
      JaredN
      • 11 Months Ago
      Good luck with that.
      jonnybimmer
      • 11 Months Ago
      They'd have to be substantially cheaper than the competition and even then they'll have some serious difficulties overcoming the (often justifiable) stigma much of America has with Chinese goods. The car in particular is something that is very close to many Americans and while you can make as many claims as you want about Americans being fine with Chinese made electronics and apparel, a car is a very different product. It's the 2nd largest investment most people will make, it carries yourself and loved ones, and is a tool for everyday life. Even those who couldn't tell you the difference from a spark plug to a oil cap still won't take buying a car lightly.
        SloopJohnB
        • 11 Months Ago
        @jonnybimmer
        Substantially cheaper would do it…unless they get pinged for dumping. When Hyundai first came in they were also panned…but it's hard to dis a 10/100K warranty. Fair disclosure…I've never driven or owned a Hyundai. But I might try a Genesis if I ever stop by a dealer….
          jonnybimmer
          • 11 Months Ago
          @SloopJohnB
          I've been in a fair share of Hyundais both new and old and can say there was a very dramatic revolution between Hyundai from the 80s/90s and the one of today. And it's true, their warranty definitely helped many Americans make the leap towards buying their first Korean car, knowing they at least had a full coverage warranty if something DID got wrong with their car. But as I said, Chinese companies have a unique relationship with their government and have done a good job pissing a lot of people off by LEGALLY (in China anyways) copying others. Remember those Chinese companies that were showcasing knockoff Vespas at the Italian bike show? http://www.autoblog.com/2013/11/12/counterfeit-vespa-scooters-siezed-italy-eicma/
      Larry Litmanen
      • 11 Months Ago
      Cool, i'll take a nice mid size sedan with all the tech for 17K-18K. I rather see a Chinese commie make money than some Detroit UAW thug.
        Jesus!
        • 11 Months Ago
        @Larry Litmanen
        Go live over there for a month or so, come back, and lets see how you feel then.
          Bruce Lee
          • 11 Months Ago
          @Jesus!
          I've lived over there as well as in auto manufacturing parts of the US in the rust belt and there are plenty of very destitute folks in China who are super hard working and looking for work. I've also met some seriously douchey former GM workers who actually bragged to me about how little they had to work, and this was while GM was going bankrupt back in 2008. Who the hell brags about how lazy they are? One guy was a forklift driver at the local plant whose job was to keep the assembly lines stocked with parts and he told me he'd drive over the pallets in the morning then stand around for the rest of the day just shooting the **** with his coworkers while getting paid. *sigh*
      B16ER
      • 11 Months Ago
      Ugh. Hopefully North American citizens realize it is in their best interests to reject these vehicles. The US and Canada are well on their way to selling out completely to China, and it will not end well.
        Cool Disco Dan
        • 11 Months Ago
        @B16ER
        If its the right price it is in my best interest. If another company can't compete on price thats their problem and it isn't in my best interest to support a company that can't compete.
          John Smitty
          • 11 Months Ago
          @Cool Disco Dan
          Yeah cuz who cares that gm amd ford got tons of retirees and family members they help every month from building our cars for 100 years. But support the country were in debt too when our american owned companys need u the most.
      barkerbro9000
      • 11 Months Ago
      we don't want no chiner cars here!
      mustsvt
      • 11 Months Ago
      Wonder if they'll paint them with lead paint....
      Unni
      • 11 Months Ago
      Americans love selling Buick, Jeep , ford etc in China but why they have double standards when it comes to BYD ? They don't have problem in getting made in china stuff from wall mart also. Even lot times my kid asked "Why all stuff is made in China". Believe it or not , next 20 years, i assume one of the big 8 car seller in US will be a Chinese car company.
        aatbloke1967
        • 11 Months Ago
        @Unni
        And whose fault is that? Clue - it isn't China's. Once you have a populace that is used to garnering a certain lifestyle, they expect something for nothing whilst simultaneously requiring as much income as possible. Against that background, the majority of people don't give a fig where their consumables come from. China doesn't have hordes of morons punching and shooting one another on Black Friday simply to save a few readies on a television made in the back end of beyond. THAT'S the reason for your deficit.
        aatbloke1967
        • 11 Months Ago
        @Unni
        Precisely. Many will lambast the Chinese human rights and copycat car designs as reasons to avoid patronising the Chinese industry, but have no problem whatsoever making money from the country. It's a trope known as "moving the goal posts to suit an ill-thought out argument".
        • 11 Months Ago
        @Unni
        [blocked]
      Jimmy
      • 11 Months Ago
      How about no.
      kuntknife
      • 11 Months Ago
      I'm mad at myself for thinking there wouldn't be stupid, ignorant comments here. This happened when Japanese cars first started selling in the States, then it happened with Korean cars. Yes, they're starting behind the curve, but they'll catch up quickly, just like the Korean cars did, just like the Japanese cars did. The funny thing is that America is fundamentally built off of capitalism. That means anyone can set up shop and offer something at any price they want, and then people vote with their wallet. Capitalism is *not* bullying someone before they set up shop.
        aatbloke1967
        • 11 Months Ago
        @kuntknife
        Excellent post. The Mitsubishi Mirage post was full of comments berating a poster for buying one as opposed to a used Kia. It's ironic that those same posters then go on to profess the virtues of a capitalist system.
      pdwid
      • 11 Months Ago
      Will they be available at WalMart?
        AP1_S2K
        • 11 Months Ago
        @pdwid
        Walmart sells chinese goods all long throughout the Midwest to people who yell "Murrica" all day long without them getting all up'n'arms about it, so I think you have a good idea, haha...... the automotive aisle is going to have to be a lot wider.
      GR
      • 11 Months Ago
      A lot of talk about how Americans won't buy them, but history shows us otherwise. Americans gobble up imports whether it be for quality, reliability, or affordability. Yes, I admit that Chinese cars now don't sound appealing. Chinese products are not known for their safety or quality in America... or anywhere even in China. However, keep in mind that the same sentiment was around decades ago for Japanese and Korean cars. Now, Japanese brands dominate popular segments. Even 15 years ago, everyone knew Hyundais and KIAs were crap. Today, they are selling well and are everywhere. Many claim they are just as good as Japanese cars. Basically, perception is not a constant variable in the automotive market. Also, let's not forget the Chinese drive our cars over in China. American products have a good reputation in China. While Chinese products aren't seen in the same light in America, to say that it will never change is very myopic. Personally, I think the best chance the Chinese have is to sell cheap EVs, hybrids, and economy cars in America. Even Korean cars are no longer very cheap. The Chinese can come and fill the void. They may actually see some success in the US market. Let's not forget that we here on this site are car people. We love cars and we are particular about them. We have brand loyalty, car lust, and seek cars out of passion. We are actually a minority. The majority of drivers see their car as an appliance to get them from point A to point B. If they can do that in a more affordable manner, they will. This is why Chinese cars may actually have a chance and a good one at that.
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