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Let me speculate a little why Chinese minibuses (vans) might be successful in US. I am considering Jinbei, since I don't know of any other manufacturers.

PROS.

1. Vans are fit for small businesses, which are abundant in US. However, domestic vans are grossly uncompetitive (to my mind) mostly due to the poor gas milage of their V6 and V8 engines. The only imported van on the market is Mercedes Sprinter, sold as Dodge for about $35 000. What Chinese can offer is Toyota design (Hiace) and low prices.

2. The gas prices have gone up, so a lot of people are shifting to diesel, which costs just like the lowest grade of petrol, but delivers better overall economy. Again, the only acceptable diesel van is Dodge Sprinter. American brands offer diesel engines, but they are too big (7 liters) for its purposes.
Chinese can eventually come up with 2.8L Toyota diesel for their vans.

3. "Forward Control" design offers excellent visibility and manuverability, which is especially important for large cities. Which makes a good delivery cars, on which in US there is a consistent demand. Other than being fleet vehicle, Hiace would sell good to private parties - judgeing by popularity of Toyota Van (TownAce in Japan), which were last sold in 1989, but are still arround.

CONS.

I am not sure why Toyota pulled out its Van (TownAce) model from US market, but I've heard it's due to its poor frontal impact performance. In any case, there are NO forward control vans on US market today, and I suspect it would be difficult to certify one. So regardless of all the PROS, it may not be realistic unless the current FMVSR guidelines change.
 
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