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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
Hello, this is my first post.

If you want to import a Chinese car to US (like me) study the car importation guidelines at nhtsa.dot.gov/cars/rules/import

From what I understand there are 2 ways:
1) To import personally (applies to cars manufactured in compliance with US standards)

2) To import through "registered importer", which has to petition National Highway Traffic Safety Administration for a vehicle eligibility number.

That number may be issued if "the vehicle is substantially similar to a vehicle that was certified by its original manufacturer as conforming to all applicable FMVSS and is capable of being readily altered to conform to those standards"

or "if there is no substantially similar U.S.-certified vehicle, that the vehicle has safety features that comply with, or are capable of being altered to comply with, the FMVSS based on destructive test information or other evidence the agency deems adequate."

Import eligibility decisions are made on a make, model, and model year basis.

So, I'd be happy to see Chinese companies send some cars over, crush test them and do everything necessary to get vehicle eligibility number, and then grey market players will kick in. It is a good way for US consumers to get to know Chinese car - based on demand, rather than supply. And it might be a good marketing step too before the full scale importation.
 

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Welcome :)


"
A Word of Caution

Both the Department of Transportation (DOT) and the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) advise that although a nonconforming car may be conditionally admitted, the modifications required to bring it into compliance may be so extensive and costly that it may be impractical and even impossible to achieve such compliance. Moreover, some vehicle models are prohibited from importation. It is highly recommended that these prohibitions and modifications be investigated before a vehicle is purchased for importation.
"

I think the number of cars required for the destructive testing makes that approach somewhat impractical...
 

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I'd be happy to see Chinese companies send some cars over, crush test them and do everything necessary to get vehicle eligibility number, and then grey market players will kick in.
Geely tried the US crash test and failed already.
Zhonghua was tested in Europe and failed(meaning it too will fail the US crash test standard).
You already heard the landwind horror story.
All Cherys but one(Son of Orient) will fail because the original models that Chery replicated would fail US crash test. Son of Orient might pass if Chery managed to replicate everything fatefully.
 

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Real_I_Hate_China said:
Zhonghua was tested in Europe and failed(meaning it too will fail the US crash test standard).

Zhonghua decided not to enter the european market yet because they don't want to spend money on certification for the current stricter emission standards.
This has nothing to do with crash tests.
 

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Discussion Starter · #6 ·
I am mostly interested in importing Jinbei Haise (Toyota Hiace) - I think there is a niche for that particular vehicle. But since Hiace was never marketed in US, the only way would be to crash test. I tried to contact Brilliance Auto on that issue, but no reply so far - could anyone provide me an e-mail address other than what is on their website?

It may seem complicated, but I strongly believe it is doable. There is no such thing as a direct prohibition on specific models, as far as I understand. So if Haise fails the crash test - oh well, let's try again. With production capacity of 120 000 and 80 000 current output, there is enough incentive.

The procedures are straightforward - Jinbei (or any other brand) sends NHTSA a letter identifying an agent of service of process. That person can import as many cars as necessary temporarily (for up to 5 years) "for specified purposes, including research". If the crash test results are unsatisfactory - come up with a quick fix and try again. You don't have to alter the whole production line in China, just provide guidance to registered importers, who will perform alterations independently, in US.

Yes, it may be extensive effort at the start, but once the vehicle eligibility number is issued, it's just a matter of marketing. And if you perform at least a perfunctory research, you will find enourmous gaps in US domestic market. This is where I think the Chinese cars fit in best now, not in the already tense and competitive sectors.
 

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With production capacity of 120 000 and 80 000 current output, there is enough incentive.
Selling 10,000 copies of a bad car is a challenge in the US; flops could sell as few as 200 cars/month. Clearly the market potential of 10,000 cars/year does not justify the cost of getting a US certification.

Suppose it costs $20 million to get your car US certified. If you sell 1 million vehicles over the course of that model's life, thats's $20 per car. If you sell 40,000 copies, then that's $1,000 per car. A figure like this probably does not hurt low volume Ferraris and Bentleys, but it does hurt low priced Chinese cars.

Entering the US market is a major financial commitment not for the faint hearted. Many came and withdrew, even majors like Renault and Daihatsu, while even more went bankrupt trying to sell to the US market, namely Daewoo and Kia who were much better financed relative to Chinese contenders. Even today, we hear rumors of Mitsubishi pulling out from the US market next year.
 

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Discussion Starter · #8 ·
I am not sure how you came up with $20 million figure. It would be helpful if you provide a reference.

Anyway, my point is there are two ways to approach the US market:

1. Official (manufacturer stamps a metal plate on a car saying "complies with all applicable FMVSR standards") - these car can be readily imported and sold as is, without any modifications. If this is what you mean by certification - it may very well be not worth the expense.

2. Grey - based on vehicle eligibility number issued by NHTSA independent RIs (registered importers) import the cars and modify them within 90 days.

The second approach has two major stages:

a) Somebody has to petition the NHTSA for a vehicle eligibility number, and do some paperwork to support the petition, probably invovling crash tests.

b) Somebody has to do some promotion, to make sure registered importers all over the country get the idea, and start buying that particular model.

My assumption is that with the second approach expenses will be minimal as compared to "official certification". For example, if you chech their website, NHTSA has issued vehicle eligibility numbers to right hand drive Accord and Skyline - and the petitioner in both cases was a small entity, obviously not capable of $20 million expense. And right hand drive is a tough case too.

This is not to say that Chinese cars are already competitive. This is to to say that with a careful choice of models addressing the gaps in US market, cars from China may gradually show up, without outrageous initial expenses.
 

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I presume Dmitry considers that there is limited competition for the Jinbei vehicle. There are several models with seating capacity ranging from about 9 to about 15 people, and I think the price in China ranges from about 10k usd upwards. They are commonly owned by companies for transporting people around.

Thailand and South Africa are two countries I've been to where the Toyota version is extensively used as a taxi.

If there is no equivelent vehicle in US market with such a good price per seat ratio then I think that is something worth pursuing.

If you are serious about it send me a note and I can pass the word along - I only deal with the people in the engine plant but they would know the people you need to approach.


I will be returning to Europe later this year and am wondering how easy it would be to get a Brilliance M2 registered for road use.
 

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Discussion Starter · #11 ·
Thank you, Fightingtorque, for your offer. I come from a formerly command economy myself, and I realize how pityful my attempts to reach Jinbei are unless I approach from the inside. Unfortunately, I don't have enough posts to send private messages on this site. Please contact me at

[email protected]

As to my reasoning regarding the issues of marketing, I'll be happy to share by e-mail.
 

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why a chinese car? You won't find your answer here, I_REAL_HATE_CHINA, it goes way deeper than just making money. If you want to make sense out of this you may try to relate this to the Appolo missions in the 60s. It's not all about wheather it is possible to put a man on the moon, its all about the sense of pride within this country.

Time has changed, but like chinese always say, "same shit, another day".
 
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