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Asian Cars: Auto Manufacturers to Watch
The Asian automobile manufacturing market is much broader than many American consumers understand it to be. Beyond Honda, Hyundai, Toyota, and other household names there are quite a few automakers that are growing in size and respectability in their own markets. Two of these companies have already committed to selling their models in the U.S., but there are three others worth knowing about and watching.
Starting in 2007, two Chinese automobile manufacturers will be exporting cars to the U.S. and Canada. Geely Automobile Company and the Chery Automobile Company are part of the first wave of new Asian automakers preparing to serve the U.S. market. I won’t go into more detail about these two manufacturers, so please read a related article I wrote titled, “Chinese Cars: Redefining the Market,” to learn more about them.
Proton -- Proton Holdings, the parent corporation of Proton Motors, is the largest manufacturer of vehicles in Malaysia. Volkswagen and Proton signed a strategic partnership agreement in October 2004 whereby Volkswagen cars would be built on Proton assembly lines beginning in 2006. Apart from the VW venture, Proton has a line of models of its own consisting primarily of subcompact and compact sized vehicles. Proton cars are currently exported to Australia and the company is eyeing the U.S. market perhaps as early as 2010. In addition to its VW relationship, Japanese automaker Mitsubishi owns nearly a 16% share in Proton.
Hindustan -- Since 1950, Hindustan Motors has been building cars for the Indian market. Their current line up of automobiles, looking as if they were built in the 1950s, do not match up to current world styling standards. However, the emerging Indian economy has been providing remarkable growth across all business sectors and the Indian automobile industry is ripe for renewal. The Ambassador Grand, one such model, has recently been updated to meet current European emissions standards. Look for a Hindustan model to be exported to Europe first before taking on the highly competitive U.S. market.
Tata -- Unlike Hindustan Motors, India’s Tata Motors is currently producing cars that look as if they were designed recently. As the only Indian car company featuring cars built and designed by Indians, the company’s Indica V2 and Indigo compacts have received a favorable reception at the Geneva Auto Show. Plans to export directly to the U.S. have been considered but Tata cars may get to the U.S. under another label before then, such as Ford or Dodge.
Beyond these five companies other state run automobile manufacturing companies have sprung up in communist controlled China. If Geely and Chery succeed, more makes will follow and the floodgates will be open. More choice is coming for consumers…for better or for worse.
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