Malcolm Bricklin's Visionary Vehicles has a new vision for importing Chinese cars from partner Chery Automobile Co. Instead of importing ultra-cheap small cars, Bricklin's new idea is to "redefine luxury" in the U.S. market.
In an interview with the Chicago Tribune, Bricklin says that VV's first import, slated for January 2007, will be "...a sedan the size of an Audi A4 with all-wheel-drive, leather and wood interior, a 10-year/100,000 mile warranty and a price tag of $19,000 vs. $30,000 for the Audi." In 2008, Bricklin plans to move further upmarket from there, targeting larger BMW and Mercedes models with a V8 sedan starting at $35,000.

Bricklin hopes to woo buyers looking to move up from mid-market brands like Toyota. By selling lower volumes at higher unit profits, he hopes to turn a profit without attracting import quotas from the U.S. government.

We can speculate that Bricklin is moving upmarket to avoid competition from a coming wave of small cars from Toyota, Nissan and Honda, all of whom have established dealer networks that dwarf VV's planned 200 dealers at launch. (So far, Bricklin has less than 50 signed up.)

That dealer network could be another stumbling block - Bricklin plans to raise much of the $200 million needed to start production by selling dealer franchises at $2 million a piece.

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