The Finch Formerly Known As Gold

13 January 2005

Chery-picking

If you were saving up for a new Yugo ZMW, you might want to reallocate your assets: Malcolm Bricklin is otherwise occupied right this minute.

Bricklin's Visionary Vehicles has signed a deal with the Chinese automaker Chery, and expects to bring over a line of cars in 2007 priced at, he says, 30 percent below the competition.

Whether this is good news or bad news remains to be seen: Bricklin's automotive track record is spotty (oil leaks?), and Chery's current designs aren't exactly noteworthy, with the possible exception of its QQ minicar, which General Motors believes to be a ripoff of the Chinese-market Chevrolet Spark, produced by GM's Korean affiliate Daewoo.

Still, the QQ sells for less than 30,000 yuan — $6000 — so at least Chery knows how to build them cheap. The question is whether they can build them well enough for the North American market. Hyundai and corporate sister Kia got a big boost by a 10-year, 100,000-mile warranty, which Visionary Vehicles will match, but the sales didn't really take off until the survey numbers were in and buyers discovered that Hyundai was building cars that might actually hold up that long. I'm guessing that the VV/Chery combine will do better than Bricklin's Yugos, but then it would be hard not to.

And if you'd prefer your Third World vehicle be procured from a non-Communist country, Romania has a sport-utility for you.

Posted at 6:32 AM to Driver's Seat


As a friend of mine sloganed...

"Chery: when a Kia is just too much car for you!"

Posted by: The Prop at 9:31 PM on 13 January 2005