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Chinese automaker coming to North America


Chinese automaker Geely displays at 2006 Detroit Auto Show

New cars for sale in a Chinese car lot. For details on Chinese models, visit China Motor Vehicle Documentation Centre, www.chinesecars.net.Dec. 15, 2005 -- Geely (known as Jili in China) will be the first Chinese automaker to exhibit at a North American auto show when it does so at the 2006 North American International Auto Show (NAIAS) -- also known as the Detroit Auto Show -- in January 2006. The Chinese automaker intends to enter the U.S. market by the end of the decade.

Geely (pronounced GEE-lee), located in Hangzhou, the capital city of Zhejiang province, will have an exhibit in the concourse of Cobo Center during press week, which begins Sunday, Jan. 8, where it will showcase one of its current cars, the 7151 CK.

The Chinese automaker wants to introduce itself to the North American media in preparation for its long-term plan of selling vehicles in this market. Top company executives who will be in Detroit include: Shufu Li, Chairman and CEO, Geely International Corp.; George Zhao, vice president, Geely International Corp.; Henry Xiong, manager of North and South American sales; John Harmer, vice president of Geely-USA, Inc., and Frank Xu, sales manager for North America.

“Geely anticipates entering the North American market in the year 2008 or 2009,” said Harmer. “Geely's engineers are currently working on design, engineering, and manufacturing changes that will bring their products into full compliance with U.S. safety and emission standards.”

The firm of EER ISUZU de Puerto Rico has been working with Geely for the past year to help bring Geely vehicles to the American market, Harmer said. Emerito Estrada Rivera, EER chairman of EER, will be at the 2006 NAIAS.

EER purchased a dozen of the Geely vehicles and had them delivered to the firm of General Testing Laboratories (GTL) in Colonial Beach, Virginia. The results of those tests are the principle basis for the work by the Geely engineers in China to bring their products into full compliance with U.S. standards. “At this time, there is no effort being made to submit the Geely vehicles to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (for testing and certification),” said Harmer. “That step will be taken in due course.”

No effort is being made at this time either to establish dealerships for Geely. “We feel that it is too early in the process to undertake that effort right now,” Harmer said. “When the infrastructure for supporting dealers has been put in place, the company will then begin to invite interested parties to become dealers. I expect that that will not happen for at least another year to 18 months.”

Geely's Beauty Leopard has a built-in karoke machine.Geely is a relatively young company, founded in 1986 and still chaired by Li Shufu. It is a newcomer to the automotive scene. Geely’s first products were refrigerators and then motorcycle parts. With the acquisition of a minivan maker, Geely became the first private Chinese enterprise to produce motor vehicles. In China, Geely sells cars under the brand names of Xiali, Haoqing, Uliou, Maple and what translates to Beauty Leopard, a sports car that gained worldwide fame because of its built-in karaoke machine.

The company has ambitious aspirations for international expansion and is now listed on the Hong Kong stock exchange. It began exporting its vehicles in 2003 and in increasingly larger numbers ever since to the Middle East, South and Central America and Africa. The company says it has established extensive trading relationships with more than 50 countries and areas including the U.S., Europe, Russia and Southeast Asia.