Chinese automakers pass on New York auto show

Updated: 2014-04-16 11:32

By Michael Barris in New York (China Daily USA)

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Chinese automakers are skipping the New York auto show that opens on Friday, the second major US showcase passed up by car companies from China this year.

In January, Chinese companies shunned the Detroit auto show, North America's largest. It was the first time since 2006 that automakers from China were not among exhibitors.

"This year, we do not have any Chinese companies displaying vehicles," the New York's show communications officer Nick Crispe told China Daily.

Show chairman John LaSorsa said North America's oldest auto show, stretching back to 1900, has played host to "every automobile manufacturer and distributor selling cars in the United States. We fully expect and welcome Chinese automakers when they are ready to display their products to the approximately 1 million visitors to our show."

A spokesman for the show did not answer an email asking when it last included a Chinese exhibitor.

New car companies "have always understood how important New York is as a place to unveil new products because it is the only city in the world where the global media, finance, advertising and fashion industries are located together in just a few square miles," LaSorsa's said in the email statement to China Daily. "The New York auto show gives companies wanting to influence and excite these important groups a unique venue to do so."

As a widely covered showcase for new products, technology and designs, the New York show has the power to boost an automobile company's brand. Last year media attendance and coverage surged 26 percent from 2012, according to show-supplied statistics.

Exhibiting there also can backfire if the media see the displayed items as not competitive.

In January, Tim Dunne, director of global automotive industry analysis for California-based market-research firm JD Power and Associates, told China Daily that Chinese companies that shunned the Detroit show may have decided the risk wasn't worth it. "The presence of Chinese automakers at the auto show in the past was probably premature - they weren't ready for the US market, but they didn't know it yet," he said.

"If a Chinese automaker wants to launch in the US in 2015, they have more pressing issues than showing a car in Detroit," Dunne said. "This includes meeting US regulatory requirements for safety and emissions, improving the quality and appeal of their vehicles, setting up a US sales and distribution company (and) signing up dealers."

Although China's leaders have made going global an automotive industry priority, China does not sell a passenger car in the US. The country has made inroads as a global parts supplier through acquisitions and international joint ventures, but it is seen as five to 10 years away from selling a passenger car that would meet the North American market's safety and emissions demands.

In January, Wang Shunsheng, head of international business at Guangzhou Automobile Group Co, or GAG Motors, said the automaker skipped the Detroit show because entering the US market "requires a lot of study and investigation and we're still in the process". Nevertheless, it is difficult for Chinese auto makers to resist the legitimacy that cracking the North American market is seen as conferring.

In recent years, numerous Chinese automakers have announced plans to sell to the US. But no vehicle has materialized. Last August, China's Geely Automotive Holdings said that in two years it would begin exporting to the US cars it co-develops with Sweden's Volvo.

David Sedgwick, an analyst and the former editor of the Automotive News, said at the time he doubted that US consumers were ready for a Geely-badged car in the US, even one on a Volvo platform.

(China Daily USA 04/16/2014 page2)