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Brilliance Auto Aims to Land in North America by End of Year

There has been no shortage of news relating to the Chinese auto industryas of late. There's a lot of buzz regarding Buick, BMW and Audi and their displays at the Shanghai International Auto Show, not to mention the many domestic market debuts, but the question we all want to know is which Chinese automaker is going to be the first to break into North America, and whether or not that company might be Chery due to its relationship with Chrysler Group (Chery is building Chrysler's upcoming B-segment car).

It now appears that a new player is serious about the North American market, and it's not industry giants SAIC and FAW, nor is it Geely which showcased one of its cars at Detroit a couple of years ago. The manufacturer that's stepping up to the plate is Brilliance, and according to a recent report they're going to be doing it with the BS4 and BS6 sedans.

Brilliance might not be China's largest automaker, but it has landed some very important firsts. For instance, it built the first mass-produced Chinese passenger car endowed with its own intellectualproperty rights; prior to that Chinese automakers licensed (or ripped off) generic clones. From there, Brilliance became the first Chinese automaker to design and build a car to be sold in Europe, which took place in 2006. It only makes sense that North America is next.

The sedans that Brilliance intends on shipping to America were developed in collaboration with some of the best parts and skills suppliers in the industry. Giugiaro and Italdesign contributed to the look of the body, which while a little anonymous looks handsome and sophisticated enough. As a consultant, Porsche worked on chassis dynamics, tuning ride and handling, while Mitsubishi backed the project by providing 2.0- and 2.4-liter inline four-cylinder engines.

As an assembly partner to BMW for Chinese-market products, the Bavarian firm also providedexpertise in quality control to bring Brilliance's initial perceived quality up a notch or two. It's worth noting that the Chinese-market MINI and 3-Series are built by Brilliance too, so we've got high hopes for the interior and quality of the BS4/6.

From what we know, the German media that have driven the BS6 praised it for being a good high-speed cruising vehicle, thanks to its advanced five-link rear suspension with passive rear-wheel steering.

According to Brilliance's president, Zhigang Liu, the BS6 is schedule to arrive not by 2012, or 2010, but by the end of this year. If it fails to hit the market within the next eight months, it'll be in early 2008, which is remarkably quick given that the company only announced its intentions recently.

Chery, SAIC, FAW, Geely and others might want to take note, as there may be some benefit to arriving in North America first. Then again, larger Chinese automakers may be hoping that a smaller firm like Brilliance will take any initial criticism North American auto journalists and analysts have to dish out, so that they can slide through the back door on a more solid footing.
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