Zotye International Automobile Trading Co., Ltd. is not quite 14 years old. However, they plan to celebrate their 15th by striding into the American market before any of their Chinese competition:
Zotye is setting up a U.S. sales and distribution arm in Lake Forest, California, and plans to sell vehicles through franchised dealers. Considering other Chinese brands (like Lynk & Co) aim to establish a subscription based model using mobile purchasing, it’s interesting hearing that Zotye intends to pursue a more practical alternative.
Presently, Zotye USA is owned by HAAH Automotive Holdings, headed by President and CEO Duke Hale, a longtime executive at several automotive import operations. “I am beyond thrilled to make this announcement, the result of more than four years of discussions and negotiations with the Zotye in China,” Hale said in a statement. “With the agreement, we have begun setting up a franchised dealer network to handle sales and service in America. We’ve had discussions with several major dealers already and will have more to say about that in the months to come.”
Wait a minute. Do I know this guy? Let’s see:
Nanjing Automobile Group, which wound up owning the MG brand after the collapse of UK-based MG Rover, has announced plans to assemble MG TF coupes at a new plant to be built in Ardmore next year. Nanjing will also reactivate a British factory to build the roadster version of the TF, and will build home-market cars in China. Production is expect to begin in the fall of 2008.
Duke T. Hale has been appointed president and CEO of MG North America/Europe, which will be based in Oklahoma City. I’d say he’s got his work cut out for him.
That was 2006. Some of that actually happened: the old MG Rover plant at Longbridge was indeed reactivated, and a handful of TFs were built — though none of them, I assure you, originated from Ardmore, Oklahoma.