Auto Manifesto

February 22, 2008

Chinese Cars In Detroit, Part 2

Let me ask you this. A lot of your clothes and shoes might have been made in places like Bangladesh, Vietnam, and Thailand. And they’re pretty good right? But who designed them, selected the materials, and set up the supply chain to deliver finished product stateside?

It’s only a matter of time before Chinese made cars are brought here. Aren’t many (most?) of the products you and I use made in China? They’re the world’s factory. A lot of the stuff made there is really, really good. Computers for example.

They contain a lot of parts from companies based in other countries. Perhaps they contain a fair amount of parts made in other countries. But your Chinese made or assembled laptop is probably well designed and manufactured, or you wouldn’t have bought it.

In time I don’t believe it will be any different for a car, another complex machine assembled from a large number of components. It could come from anywhere. The Chinese automobile industry is going to progress faster than the Japanese and Koreans did. The trail was already blazed. The only thing that might rival their pace is that of the Indians.

There is no doubt we are going to see some massive change. And I think that pace of change has been and is being accelerated by the world’s automobile manufacturers and suppliers setting up shop in China and combining their skills with the manufacturing capabilities that exist there.

If I were to guess which Chinese made vehicles will succeed in the US market first, I’m going to place my bet on a non-Chinese company that already successfully sells vehicles in the US, and has strong ties to a Chinese partner. That’s the firm that has the least steep learning curve.

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