Here Come The Chinese
Each oak tree starts with an acorn, each avalanche starts with a crack: so what’s to say that the arrival in the UK of the Great Wall Steed will not signal the start of a (welcome) invasion of Chinese-manufactured cars?
Back in 1968 the Japanese arrived with the Datsun Sunny – and look now at the dominance of Far Eastern models on the UK roads now.
The Japanese are not only key players in the motoring lives of many British motorists, but also in their working lives, with 3 car plants that includes Nissan’s Sunderland plant (the UK’s biggest) making over 400,000 cars a year.
It has taken some time for China to get themselves to a production standard that would allow them to even attempt to get a foothold in the European market. A few years ago their design, quality and engineering prowess were nowhere near good enough, but a decade of working alongside American and European car manufacturers in China has allowed them to make such rapid progress that they are ready to make themselves one of THE players in the car market.
By the looks of it, the plan is to start – as the Japanese and Koreans did before them – by offering bargain cars in the UK that are value for money; and with the economy in such a precarious state, who is to say that this ploy isn’t a smart and well-timed move?
So, what is on its way?
Firstly it will be the Great Wall Steed, a pick-up truck that offers around 30mpg through its 2litre diesel engine, solid workload, and the infamous Far Eastern customer care. Obviously that’s not for all to buy, although it will be cheaper than any of its competitors, but then the real invasion follows.
In January Geely, who bought Volvo in 2010, will launch their Focus-sized Emgrand saloon and hatchback, with a new model to arrive every year for 5 years after that, at a price that will undercut the incumbents.
And then there is the revival of the MG brand by Shanghai Automotive Industries (SIA). MG collapsed in 2005 and SIA have now invested £5million in Longbridge to design a new line-up of MGs. And although it has yet to be a real big hit, the foothold will get larger, allowing first boots and then legs through.
Mind you, it won’t be the sporty MGs that you will see; SIA are concentrating on the growing SUV market with a sporty SUV arriving mid-2015 allegedly.
Maybe there will come a time when China rival Japan and Korea for our Far Eastern motor hearts? And that time may be sooner than you think.