Last week I was in Nanjing, it was 41 degrees, the sun was raining its ultra violet rays down on myÂ follicly challenged head and making my face slowly turn red. I jumped in my car and headed off to an exhibition, but on the way there I spotted a Chrysler Voyager that wasn’t a Chrysler Voyager. What was this strange beast?
According to Erik, who is a fountain of knowledge on all Chinese made automobiles this beast is a San Xing Voyager. San Xing were (note the past tense here) a state owned car manufacturer in ZhanJiang city, Guangdong Province. Back in the 1990′s the US Dollar was at its highest point against the RMB, American cars wereÂ considered treasured machines by up and coming Chinese businessmen who wanted a car that could show their new found wealth, back then there wasn’t much on the roads aside from first generation VW Santana’s and old Shanghai and Hong Qi vehicles that were more reminiscent of the 60′s than the 90′s.
San Xing saw an opportunity, although they were a state owned company they saw a legal gray hole in Chinese import law that allowed companies to import car parts for substantially less than full cars, and as such they gave Chrysler a call demanding cars with no wheels. Chrysler didn’t hesitate and gladly supplied San Xing with Chrysler Voyagers, sans wheels, that were imported as CKD (complete knock down vehicles) vehicles only to be re-assembled in China with a different badge. Mitsubishi later deployed the Space Wagon and also the Rosa mid size bus to San Xing, Honda also sent the Odyssey to China, Dodge sent its MPV series too.
Erik sent on these photos:
San Xing was not in the auto making business too long, as big name car brands such as Mitsubishi and Chrysler moved to investing in their own JV’s in the Chinese market, the supply of cars to San Xing slowly dried up. It’s not entirely clear what happened to San Xing as a car maker, the below pictures indicate that San Xing Automobiles is certainly dead, the factory is returning to nature, which is unusual in the fast pace world of Southern Real Estate where land is at a premium regardless of its previous use. San Xing traded under the name of 3-Star Motor Company, not a fantastic name if you are going to export cars (not that San Xing ever did – that we know of), especially as 3-Star is synonymous with mediocre hotels, why not use 5-Star like your national flag?
San Xing’s Logo:
Here’s the factory as it stands today (Pictures from FBLife.com)
Nearby to San Xing there were a few other small CKD factories that were riding the crest of the China Automotive Tsunami back in the early 90′s, Wan Li Auto (10,000km Auto Company) was one of them, it saw early success but eventually went bankrupt after losing nearly 1 billion RMB and seeing its CEO being sent down for hard time. More on this one at a later date.