Look Out Detroit, China’s Moving In!

Japanese carmakers did it first and the Chinese will soon follow. New imported cars are entering the U.S. market and they promise quality and affordability.

In 2008 it’ll be the Geely, a $10,000 basic yet comfortable car that comes with standard power windows, air conditioning and CD player. The Geely will be sold in existing car dealerships throughout the country.

Other brands like Chery, SAIC, Brilliance, Great Wall, Foton Auto and Boading Tianma Auto Vehicles will follow its footsteps, importing a full line of sedans, minis, coupes, minivans, trucks, SUVs, buses and heavy equipment.

Their idea is to compete in the mainstream market against traditional automakers relaying on affordability as their main strength, since these cars sell for $9,000 to $15,000, or 30% to 50% cheaper than domestic alternatives.

However, marketing might be a challenge for Chinese automakers that still have to fight stereotypes of bad quality and legal disputes over stolen designs. Before they enter the United States they will also have to comply with government safety and emissions standards, which can be an expensive process.

Many of these companies have already established strategic alliances with carmakers in the states like GM, Toyota and BMW, which should make the things a little easier. Innovative promotion and distribution strategies include certifying independent repair shops to handle warranty-covered repair work and selling parts in general retail stores like Wal-Mart.

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