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Ricart to sell Chinese vehicles
Dealership will be second in area to take the plunge
Saturday, June 24, 2006
Paul Wilson
THE COLUMBUS DISPATCH
</IMG> GREAT WALL MOTOR CO . Ricart will sell the Hover SUV from Great Wall Motor Co.

Ricart Automotive plans to sell Chinese cars in central Ohio this year, a move that could further spur the entry of vehicles from the world’s most populous country into the U.S. market.
The dealership, one of the largest in the country, will pay China Car Distributors Inc., of Scottsdale, Ariz., $40,000 to sell sedans and sport-utility vehicles built in China, said Rhett Ricart, the company’s chief executive.
"It’s all about the consumers looking for the best bang for the buck," he said. "This is a $35,000 car (that sells) for $20,000."
Ricart said the sedan he plans to sell includes seat-warmers, a DVD player and a navigation system.
Ricart plans to sell the Europa sedan from Brilliance Auto and the Hover SUV from Great Wall Motor Co. Great Wall is China’s largest privately owned auto manufacturer, and Brilliance Auto has a venture with BMW to build sedans in China.
Ricart is the second Columbus-area dealership known to be planning to sell Chinese cars. In February, Midwestern Auto Group of Dublin bought exclusive rights in the Columbus area to sell vehicles made by Chery Automobile Co.
There is concern that inexpensive Chinese imports will flood the U.S. market and deal a blow to the struggling domestic auto industry.
"It was never a question of if, but when, the Chinese were coming to this market," said Steve Finlay, editor of Ward’s Dealer Business. "Certainly, when you have a dealership of Ricart’s size, if he’s taking it seriously, the rest of the autodealer world should do the same thing."
Don Bishop, executive vice president of China Car Distributors, said, "No sales and service-dealer agreement have been executed at this point." But Ricart said the agreement is all but completed.
A Web site for China Car Distributors tells customers that, "This is your chance to participate in what could represent the ‘next Japan’ for the automotive industry."
"There are American dealers who don’t want to get left behind and who remember when the Japanese weren’t taken seriously or when the Koreans weren’t taken seriously," Finlay said. Also yesterday, Ricart announced it will "deeply discount" more than 1,900 vehicles damaged in Thursday’s hailstorm, beginning today.
 

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Arizona distributor's high hopes

According to China Car Distributors the vehicles it imports are, or will be, certified for sale in the U.S. by launch date.
But it's interesting to see what is found on the CCD website under the name 2006 Hover. The page shows three different models, Great Wall's Safe SUV (a Toyota HiAce clone), an SUV with Fudi's short wheelbase body, and the Hover itself.

According to the following website:
http://www.china-motors.ru
the Hover is an Isuzu Axiom body on a 1989 4Runner chassis and powered by a Mitsubishi Pajero engine.

So far all Great Walls models seem to be well received in Russia. Now it will be interesting to see how they do in the premium market. One thing is for sure.....if a good spare parts supply chain is not put in place it's a sure recipe for failure.
 

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Wow, this year?!? I'm not so interested in the SUV, but is the sedan the same one as the one on our banner? That's a great looking car! Can people outside of Ohio get one???
 
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