Chinese auto manufacturer Chery will design, build and export cars to the US under a deal with US-based Visionary Vehicles, which will market the cars. Come 2007, stevedores should be driving the first cars of a five-model range, spanning compact to luxury sports coupe, off ships at US West Coast ports.
Scoff some may, but it seems Chery-Visionary is looking to make a splash with some pretty striking designs. Lending a hand in the design studio, for the first five models at least, will be European and Japanese firms whose clients include low-volume makers like Ferrari and Lamborghini.
Visionary Vehicles boss Malcolm Bricklin is an old hand at this game. He brought Korean Subaru and Yugoslavian Yugo, with less success, to the US market. In an effort to quash concerns about the quality of cars made in China, Visionary will give 10-year/100,000-mile warranties, a package first used by South Korea's Kia Motors to crack the US market.
A few weeks earlier General Motors and Korean affiliate Daewoo said Chery's QQ compact ripped off one of their cars. Annoyed by Chery's denial, they're rolling up their shirt sleeves, heading for the courts.
Aircraft is another area where naysayers are sure China will not make the grade. It's all smiles and champagne over at China National Aero-technology Import & Export Corp (CATIC), however, after closing a US$250m deal with undisclosed buyers, thought to be African governments, for 20 60-seater MA60 regional turboprops made by Xi'an Aircraft Co.
A milestone they say. Nice, but the MA60's heritage is Soviet, not Chinese. CATIC President Fu Shula called the deal "encouraging" for an industry whose export ambitions have long been frustrated by technical barriers, like quality, put in its way by American and European competitors.