It looks like Chery may be very close to finalizing a deal to build the B-Class Hornet for Chrysler. Daimler-Chrysler has repeatedly told analysts that they will have a deal to build the Hornet in place by the end of 2006. They definitely need a car like like the Hornet quickly, as the smallest car they currently offer is the Caliber, which is selling well but cannot compete with the likes of the Honda Fit, Nissan Versa and Toyota Yaris.
According to Automotive News, Malcolm Bricklin of Yugo (and on a more positive note Subaru) infamy, is actually pleased about the possibility of a deal between Chery and Chrysler. Bricklin announced his plans to import Chery vehicles to the US market under the Visionary Vehicles banner a couple of years ago. Bricklin has had difficulty signing up dealers for Visionary Vehicles because of concerns about quality from Chery (thanks in large part to the Yugo debacle). Bricklin claims that a Chrysler-Chery deal could help demonstrate the credibility of Chery's production quality and make his plans easier. Of course depending on the nature of the deal it could come back to bite both Bricklin and Chery if they're not careful. To date Chery has not been known for either ethical behavior or quality. They did clone the Daewoo Matiz to create the Chery QQ. Hopefully, GM and Ford will be able to just bring their European B-Class cars to this market without having to resort to outsourcing to China.
[Source: Automotive News - subscription required]