Are you kidding me? China and the North American Car Show

I watched the last five minutes of the North American Car Show.  It sounded like a lot of marketing for Ford and GM, though the commentators were parked directly in front of the Hyundai booth.  For the most part it was completely innocuous drizzle, but then one commentator asked the other about Chinese cars and the fact that none of them were showing at the US show.  To my utter astonishment, the other commentators said something to the effect, “They simply can’t make the kind of cars that Americans want in terms of quality and features.”

Thinking that these companies can’t create the product is a recipe for disaster.  The first fact that comes to mind is that Ford, GM, and Chrysler only sell around 40% of the vehicles here in the US.  Second, car sales in China now exceed sales in the US, and so car manufacturing is scaling up there.

There are many reasons why the Chinese companies may not want to be at the North American car show.  Expansion into a foreign market is non-trivial, and the US has its own well developed set of safety and emissions requirements that must be met.  I think the fact that the Chinese companies are not yet at the car show simply shows that it will still be a few years until we have any Chinese cars being sold in the US.

But concluding that they can’t make competitive cars is ridiculous.  That sounds like something that was said about the Japanese car companies and we know how that played out.  And if you think the Chinese can’t make safe cars, my response is only that the Chinese already own Volvo.

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