The simple answer being of course, Federal Crash Standards. In a seemingly eternal battle of cat and mouse, as soon as Chinese manufacturers meet Euro 5 emissions or build a car that has NCAP 4 stars or better, a new range of standards and guidelines appear that take it to the next level for their already stretched R&D budget.
Chinese automakers have been eyeing the U.S. market for years, yet not one has started selling cars here. They just arenâ€™t ready for prime time in one of the worldâ€™s most competitive auto markets.
The latest Chinese company to test the waters isÂ Guangzhou Automobile Group Ltd., or GAC, which brought a trio of its models to the North American International Auto Show in Detroit. Granted the car companyâ€™s display was in the lobby, not on the main floor. But GACâ€™s Dr. Xiangdong Huang, group VP and president of engineering, quipped that the location probably had better visibility than the show floor due to all the heavy foot traffic.
The most impressive car unveiled by Chinaâ€˜s sixth biggest carmaker was a sporty, concept sedan called the E-Jet, an extended range hybrid that is expected to go into production later this year.
The fatal part:
Thatâ€™s why so many Chinese car companies have partnered with outsiders.Â GAC has joint ventures with non-Chinese car companies to produce cars there, including Japanâ€™s Toyota, Honda and Italyâ€™s Fiat. GAC started producing the Fiat Viaggio model last fall in China. GAC also sells the imported Fiat Bravo, 500 and Freemont in China.
Foreign manufacturers partnered with local Chinese companies: Because they had to. The deal was known as Market Access for Technology, in that foreign manufacturers were allowed to make and sell cars in China on comprimise that they hand over some technology to their Chinese partners. This deal didn’t really work out in the Chinese partners favor, but they did grow big from selling foreign branded cars.
Chrysler Groupâ€™s Mike Manley was part of GACâ€™s press conference, but not for long. The COO for Fiat in the Asia Pacific and CEO of the Jeep brand slipped away as soon as the short presentation was over. Perhaps he didnâ€™t want to steal his partnersâ€™ thunder or maybe he had a pressing appointment somewhere else at the show. But it sure seemed Manley fled as soon as he was able, as if he didnâ€™t want to be there.
I’ve met Mr. Manley before, he probably slipped away for a cigarette.