Chinese Cars Are they Ready for Prime Time? 2009 Detroit Auto …

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Brilliance Electric Cars

Chinese Cars: Are they for Prime Time. 2009 Auto Show

October 1, 12:00 AM

DETROIT The waxy-white of China’s BYD F6DM glistened on the floor under the bright But onlookers from the red carpet the floor could not easily the half-deflated tire in the rear. sagging tire brings from last year’s show, when the Chinese looked and felt like copied 1980s-era Japanese

The memories stop there. The a ferrous-battery-powered hybrid electric was unveiled last year in the of the Detroit Auto Show now sat on the floor (thanks to the absence of manufacturers like Nissan and and, even more the company responsible for this hood also brought news and developments that that they were the floor with the big dogs for a Chinese car companies have a that may not only get them to but may also make them sooner than anyone

We’ve known for years Chinese cars would one day be stateside, but “one day” was a ways away. Recent by Chamco and Chery to set up a U.S. network failed, to no one’s At best, the flimsy-looking cars had to no chance of passing stringent crash regulations.

Company officials made that they could the cars to fit the regulations, but, they were so far off the mark, we think we’d see a Chinese car here for at least five

There are, however, 50 Chinese car companies, and it turns out generalizing the entire industry on just two frontrunners was a bit unfair. an open mind, we descended on the BYD Your Dreams) and Brilliance stands this year to out what kind of cars are in companys portfolios and if those have a shot at making it in the anytime soon. Here is how measure up. Larry Webster


At Brilliance, there were cars, the small FEV hatchback, two (M1 and M2) and a sporty coupe called the M3 looked a lot like a Mercedes-Benz BYD had an electric five-passenger wagon, the e6, and a of plug-in hybrid sedans, the and F3DM. Yes, you read rightplug-ins.

BYD is first and foremost a battery of the largest suppliers in the world, some 200 million lithium-ion batteries last year BYD has been building cars 2003 and they say their car battery is a significant step for the industry. The new battery is said to the same energy density as li-ion batteries but is far less to overheat.

On top of that, they it costs about half as too.

The BYD e6 uses a 65-kilowatt-hour that’s mounted under the floor. The pack weighs 1300 pounds, and each is powered by an electric motor. The motor makes 214 hp while the produces 54. BYD claims the car takes 8 seconds to hit 60 mph. More is the claimed 250-mile range.

If accurate, then BYD has a game-changing car on its hands. The plug-in hybrid employ a planetary gearset CVT functionally similar to the system in the Prius. With a full the sedans have a claimed electric-only range.

For comparison, GM’s goal the Volt is 40 miles of electric-only

BYD says they will the U.S. market in two years the electric e6 and plug-in F6DM. has not announced its time frame, but the says it will be here in a few probably with a Camry-size “North America is the largest car in the world and it’s also the in terms of quality, says Shan, the general manager of Auto. Selling cars in the will raise our brand’s around the world.” Similarly BYD the U.S. as the best place to its green cars, thanks in they say, to the incoming administration.

Safety, Quality and

BYD claims it designed its two cars U.S. crash regulations in so there should only be modifications as it pursues certification. has already crash-tested a couple of and will apply lessons to the next-generation sedan that it to deploy here.

The cars both companies at least and felt stout enough to the regulations. We are far from certain, but to the thin doors, for example, of the cars we saw last year, the we saw here are decades ahead. the BYD and Brilliance cars inside and the sedans in particular, is reminiscent to a look inside the last-generation Sonata.

That’s a huge compliment the level of quality Hyundai has able to achieve in a relatively period of time.

Brilliance Electric Cars

The interior points along with the fit and reminded us of older Japanese In other words, the interior is but not world-class. Brilliance, which builds BMWs in China, that through its partnerships BMW and Toyota it has learned high-quality techniques.

Brilliance has brought in the design firm Giugiaro to many of its cars and Porsche to calibrate suspension tune.

has a reputation for ripping off designs other car companies, and there was evidence of that in both the BYD and cars. The BYD e6 had a shifter that very similar to the one in the Prius, and dash buttons appear to been borrowed from a S-Class. Hey, if you re going to it might as well be from the The steering wheels in the Brilliance mimicked the design of Mazda’s wheel. Most of this was minorexcept in the case of the Brilliance M3.

That car looks very inside and out, to the Mercedes-Benz And the nameM3sort of left a bad taste in our Even if it is a good car, it s no BMW M3.

Cost and Distribution

Brilliance’s selling point will be David Shelburg, the U.S distributor for says the first sedan come loaded with and will probably arrive at a some 10 to 15 percent less a similar Japanese car. plug-in cars will be more expensive.

The e6 will be between $30,000 and $40,000. But for a car that much battery, is likely to be a bargain.

BYD has no concrete at this point for distribution and that it would like to with a company that has an dealership network. “How Chrysler?” we asked. No comment. on the other hand, has already up 36 dealers.

The Bottom Line

Compared to of the poorly crafted Chinese we’ve seen in the past, the on display this year decades ahead. And if BYD’s about its batteries are true, the has made a major advance. We yet to drive one of the cars on display at this year, but one thing is for these cars are surprisingly

It seems very likely see a Chinese car on our shores within years. Don’t be surprised if come from BYD or Brilliance.

Brilliance Electric Cars
Brilliance Electric Cars
Brilliance Electric Cars


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