On occasion we get asked when Chinese auto manufacturers will start to set up shop in North America. We now know the answer, and the answer is now, if we start the clock at the announcement just made by Zotye.
The Chinese company has just confirmed that it is setting in motion the establishment of a first network of dealerships on our continent. The plan is to sell the first Zotye model in the U.S. before the end of 2020.
The first 19 dealerships of the network are already ready to sell their vehicles. According to Automotive News, these outlets are spread out across the United States, with a number of them on each coast, including San Diego, with others setting up shop in flyover country, in places like Wichita, Kansas and Oklahoma City, Oklahoma. The retail operations will be run by existing dealership groups.
Zotye’s ambitions go far beyond this, of course. Automotive News also reports that the company wants to set up a distribution network of some 325 outlets spread out in 80 of the largest markets in the U.S.
The manufacturer has not revealed which of its models will be the first to cross the ocean to be sold to North American consumers, but rumours have it that it will be the T600, a VUS that made its debut in China in 2013.
It’s very possible the model will also get a visual makeover and even a new nameplate.
What are the odds of success of these Made in China products?
The head of Zotye in the U.S., Duke Hale, evidently thinks they are very high. The executive has promised that the products his company will offer will be on average 20% cheaper than those of the competition. He added that consumers would be able to buy their Zotyes online. Dealerships will take their cue from the Saturn model of old, that is to say they will offer consumers a unique client experience.
"We've got the team; we've got the lineup; we've got the price; we've got the value. And we're going to have the experience. It's going to be hard to duplicate. A lot of competitors are going to nearly hate us."
- Duke Hale, Zotye
While Zotye looks set to be the first Chinese manufacturer to take root in north America, it certainly won’t be the last. GAC has been showing off its vehicles at the Detroit auto show for several years now. It too plans to be active on the American market by 2020.
And what about Canada? We’ll have to wait and see where it fits into the plans of the Chinese automakers, but we’re fairly sure it will fit in there somewhere.