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Car Maker Revs up for US
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Geely Automotive Holding Chairman Li Shufu admitted the Chinese firm faces hurdles when trying to sell cars to the US.


Geely is the first Chinese car manufacturer to participate in the annual International Detroit Auto Show, taking place between January 8-21.


Li announced that Geely plans to begin selling two models to the United States in the autumn.


"Geely is on track to enter the United States automobile market in 2008. Our goal is to present the American people with another choice for the family sedan, a vehicle that is of the highest quality but is available at the lowest price," said Li.


But Li also acknowledged that there are problems ahead.


"The United States has higher demands than the Chinese market. The basic demands are safety, emissions and service networks," said Li. "What will determine when we start exporting is whether we can meet those demands or not."


At the car show Geely is promoting a mid-sized sedan. A future generation of the model will be the first to be exported to the US, according to Li. It will cost less than US$10,000 and be aimed at young, budget-conscious families. The model is already being made in China.


The second model will be Geely's Beauty Leopard. No other models will be exported to the United States for several years after that one, said Li.


"There have been many improvements in design and engineering on what you see here," he added.


Geely sent 12 sedans to a testing laboratory in Virginia last July to test what modifications need to be carried out for the US market.


These alterations will all be made by Geely's engineers in China, Li said.


But Li said the engineers don't yet know enough about the tastes of US consumers to design a car for them.


John Harmer, vice-president and chief operating officer of Geely-USA Inc, said Geely will sell 25,000 cars in its first year in the United States.


By the fifth year, the firm expects to sell 100,000 vehicles a year there.


(China Daily January 12, 2006)


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