The Chinese are not coming

More from the wacky world of Chinese auto companies, and their stalled, yet thoroughly entertaining efforts to breach the U.S. market. A couple of days ago I blogged about how Malcolm Bricklin was suing his former import partner Chery Automotive for fraud.

Now this. Chamco Auto is another U.S. company that planned to sell Chinese-designed, Mexican-made cars in the U.S. A few months ago I reported in the magazine (the story isn’t online anymore) that Chamco was courting potential Canadian dealers to sell the cars here, too. But Chamco has flamed out in a most spectacular and public way. I won’t go into all the details, but you can read the conspiracy-laden ramblings of Chamco’s Chairman Bill Pollack here in a series of open letters. Suffice it to say, Zhongxing Auto has sent a letter to Chamco terminating their agreement.

Why the debacles? For one thing, the Chinese cars have yet to pass the necessary safety, performance and emissions tests required of North American vehicles. Maybe because of this, the Chinese turned to eccentric promoters (like Bricklin) and barely-known outfits (like Chamco) to get their foot in the door—both Bricklin and Chamco raised millions of dollars selling distribution rights to potential dealers, promising them the cars would be ready any day. Now, with gas prices soaring and drivers hanging up their keys, the U.S. auto market doesn’t seem like the Holy Grail it once was. Put it all together and it’s a safe bet we’re not going to see cheap, Chinese cars on North American roads any time soon.

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