I told you. :lol: :lol: :lol: :lol:Bricklin delays plans for importing Chinese cars
Wed Sep 13, 2006 6:23 PM ET
By Poornima Gupta
DETROIT (Reuters) - Maverick entrepreneur Malcolm Bricklin, best known for bringing the low-cost Yugo car to America, has delayed for the third time his ambitious plan to import Chinese-made cars to the United States.
"I was jumping a little bit faster than my host could handle," Bricklin told the Reuters Autos Summit in Detroit on Wednesday. "At the end of 2008 and beginning of 2009, the first cars will hit the shores."
The energetic and outspoken Bricklin had initially set a target of January 2007 for the first sales of the vehicles. He later moved back the date to the summer of 2007 and then to the end of the year.
Bricklin said that he now has 50 dealers on board, far below his targeted 250 dealers, and is planning to launch models priced from $15,000 to $45,000. The cars are expected to compete with top-line luxury brands such as BMW, Audi and Mercedes.
Bricklin has a long but spotty track record importing and selling cars in the United States. His most successful venture to date has been the launch of Fuji Heavy Industries Ltd.'s (7270.T: Quote, Profile, Research) Subaru brand in America in the late 1960s. Chief among his flops was the Canadian-made Bricklin SV-1 sports car that was in production for a mere two years.
Dealers have to invest $2 million to sign up, he said.
"We have stoped officially taking money from dealers until the joint venture is signed, which is imminent," he said.
The 67-year-old, who formed his company, Visionary Vehicles, for importing cars, is in the process of finalizing a joint venture with China's Chery Automobile with Chery holding 60 percent and Visionary taking a 40 percent stake.
Bricklin said he expects to sign the joint venture agreement by the end of October or early November.
Privately held Visionary Vehicles will launch 20 vehicle models over five years, starting with one model on sale in late 2008 or early 2009 and four other models on display in showrooms, Bricklin said.
From then on, the company plans to introduce a new car every three months.
"I think we can do 150,000 cars the first year," Bricklin said.
So far, many industry watchers have been skeptical about Bricklin's vision, especially given the delays in launch and slow progress in signing on dealers to sell the cars.
But Bricklin remains confident.
"We are putting our face out there and saying, 'Look at us.' And if we do our job, we're going to win this game," Bricklin said. "And if we don't, we're going to get our ass kicked right on the first day."