Changfeng Motor Company took a pair each of SUVs and pickup trucks to the NAIAS
in Detroit as a first salvo at attacking the US market. Changfeng is a state-owned manufacturer that used to build vehicles for the Chinese army. Before you walk away snickering, consider this; Changfeng is hot to start exports to the US within 3 years, they claim they can meet US standards for emissions and safety, and they've enlisted the design hand of Pininfarina. A bargain-priced Italian-styled vehicle with a high level of content like all the power gee-gaws buyers want like nav, DVD screens, etc. has the potential to be a quick seller. From what we've seen, they're not there yet. The Feibao CT5
(shown above) reminds us of a late '80s Hyundai
in material quality and fit and finish. Changfeng will get there, but there's lots of work still to be done. There is no US sales organization, nevermind a dealer
network, and the product had best be up to par when it finally appears for sale here. There's also the issue of perception. China is, after all, the country that is siphoning tons of jobs world wide because of their rock-bottom labor costs. There's resentment, as well as real and percieved quality issues to overcome. We have no doubt, though, once these vehicles hit the market, some US buyers will forget all about their gripes and buy on price if the vehicles approach acceptability. Maybe they could even partner with Wal-Mart to sell them?