Let's add a little more variety to the US market.
Chinese cars have a poor reputation, and rightly so, for the most part. The Chinese government's ambivalence to global copyright rules and recommendations has led to many cheap copycats. China also hasn't the driving culture a lot of the rest of the world has used to refine the automobile. Transport there needs to be cheap, and the Chinese auto industry is good at building cheap products, cutting corners everywhere it can.
However, that doesn't mean China doesn't appreciate nice, luxury, fast, or even decent quality cars. It's also worth remembering that here in the west, and America in particular, the car is a status symbol. As a result, we can be incredibly snobby about transport while living outside our means and considering credit as a god-given right. So, with all that in mind, here are the Chinese market cars we would be interested to see make it to the US market.
The SS Dolphin is pure 1960s retro with its double headlights, chrome accents, white bodyside coves, and rounded rear arches. Shamelessly aping the first generation Chevrolet Corvette, it makes us wonder if GM should strike a deal rather than try and fight it. Let Songsan Motors sell the SS Dolphin, with the proviso they change the name to something less stupid and get a real designer to make a new badge and take a cut of every sale. It's electric-powered, so there are no emissions to measure and it may not take a lot of work to get the SS Dolphin sailing through US regulations.
As part of the Jiangling-Ford venture, the Ford Equator is a seven-seater crossover powered by a 2.0-liter four-cylinder engine. It strikes us a big utility vehicle with a price-point that would suit families not buying into the luxury market. It's set to take on the Jeep Grand Commander and Toyota Highlander in China. It comes with either a five-speed manual or five-speed automatic and the option between rear or all-wheel-drive. The Equator also has a set of headlights we love.
An inexpensive midsize sedan in the US would be something like the Hyundai Sonata, which starts at $23,700. The rather handsome Changan Eado costs the equivalent of about $16,000. It has a 1.6-liter gasoline engine making 125 horsepower and is available with a five-speed manual or a four-speed auto, which explains its low price point. However, for those that just want a well-built good looking sedan designed in Turin and packing a solid set of features, something like the Eado could be just the ticket. It does have a sportier version that packs a more sophisticated 170-hp 1.5-liter turbo engine matched to a 7-speed dual-clutch transmission.
Wey is a "premium" brand under the umbrella of Great Wall Motors. It's one of the companies trying to forge its own path and deliver great products at a reasonable price point. Its premium designation may be a stretch, but the VV7 is a decent looking five-door crossover powered by a 2.0-liter turbo engine making 227 hp. There have been rumors of the VV7 making it to Europe and then the US. It would face tough competition if the USD pricing is the equivalent of its Chinese price. Starting at $24,388, it would be going toe to toe with the Japanese and Korean brands that are currently building compelling family crossovers loaded with tech at that price point. Incredibly, German tuner Brabus went to work on a VV7 GT. Maybe that's the Chinese company's best way into Europe.
The Hongqi L5 is the official state car of the People's Republic of China and only available to the government elite. However, we can appreciate its badass retro styling and the fact it's 6.5 feet wide, 5 feet tall, and packs a 6.0-liter V12 making 402 hp and 405 lb-ft of torque. Hongqi, translated as Red Flag, is China's longest-serving automaker and famed for enormous state limousines and parade cars. It's no surprise the inside is dripping in leather, wood, and the latest technology the working people don't need, but the elders of state do. In US money, it would cost a gob-smacking $760,000.
Sure, the minivan represents a small share of the US market but we would love to see a real luxury minivan in the US. We wouldn't buy one, but we would hope corporate America gave them a chance. Buick now makes most of its sales in China, and the GL8 is a Chinese market minivan. The GL8 Avenir isn't a production car, but it matches and maybe exceeds the insane Japanese market Lexus LM minivan. We can only hope there's a business case for its diamond-patterned and gold-trimmed luxurious reclining seats, two huge rear infotainment displays, and massive glass roof.
The actual GL8 Avenir is already advanced and deserves a significant mention. It features vehicle-to-everything (V2X) technology. V2X enables vehicles to communicate with each other and road and traffic infrastructure to improve safety.
Volkswagen is making bank in China, and has its own range of China-only vehicles, including the Cross Lavida. The Lavida is Volkswagen's best selling car in China, and the Cross Lavida is a derivation of the Gran Lavida, which is a hatchback/wagon version of the sedan. Think of it like the Audi A4 Allroad and Volvo V60 Cross Country. A raised Volkswagen crossed between a hatchback and a wagon with load-bearing roof rails would likely find buyers in the US.
Somewhere between the Passat and the now sadly defunct Phaeton is the Chinese market Phideon. It's a large sedan built on the Volkswagen MLB platform utilized by the Audi A6 and A7. It was powered by a 295-hp 3.0-liter V6 or a 2.0-liter hybrid system until this year. However, it is still available with a 2.0-liter turbocharged four-cylinder powering the front wheels via a seven-speed DSG transmission. It would be the perfect budget executive limo fleet car in the US and even has a chauffeur mode that hands control of the infotainment system to the back seats.