The Chinese auto industry is going through an important change right now. Just a decade ago, Chinese cars were known for being cheap knockoffs of models from other more established automakers. Lately, a few of these automakers have emerged as real contenders poised to break into both the American and European markets. Chery, the state-owned operation founded just over 20 years ago, announced today that it will start selling cars under an all-new nameplate. Unsurprisingly, the first will be a compact crossover.

Chery, like Geely, has proved itself and is one of the more respected Chinese makes. Still, its name carries a certain connotation that we're sure it's looking to shed. The first European-bound model will make its debut next month at the Frankfurt Motor Show. The three teaser images give us a brief glimpse of the model in pre-production form. The car looks sleek, with an aggressive grille and sharp lines along the flank. Inside, a floating infotainment screen sits above the dash. The three knobs all have small displays inside.

Chery's next goal is to set up a European distribution network. It's also looking to establish a research and development facility in Europe. Chery intends to be a full-line automaker with a range of products. It plans to focus on electrified powertrains, so look for hybrids, plug-in hybrids and full EVs.

Most Americans likely have never heard of Chery, Geely or any other Chinese automaker, though each one of those brands already has a huge market base. In 2016, Chery sold more than 700,000 vehicles. It exports more cars than any other Chinese automaker. There are currently 10 production facilities outside of China, with more on the way.

With Chery's focus straight on Europe, it seems unlikely that it will be the first Chinese automaker to sell a car in the U.S. That's not to say that the brand won't make its way here, just that Europe will hold its focus for a while. The American market is hugely important for China. The government has a huge stake in the auto industry and is pushing for western expansion.

Just this week we heard that an unnamed Chinese automaker was looking at purchasing FCA. While that makes sense from a business standpoint, it's unclear of the US government will be keen on a hugely important corporation like Chrysler falling into Chinese hands. Either way, Chinese cars are coming, sooner rather than later.

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