Think you can handle a Wingle?

view gallery VIEW GALLERY

Chinese cars are coming to British showrooms

Coming to a car showroom near you: the Florid, the Hover 5, the Cool Bear, the Phenom i7 and the Wingle. Official imports of the first Chinese-branded cars to be sold in Britain have already begun, and these models – made by Great Wall Motors – will be in showrooms by the end of March.

And their value-for-money is bound to challenge established market leaders Ford and Vauxhall, as well as more budget-oriented marques such as Kia, Hyundai and Skoda.

In time, the arrival of Great Wall and others from China and India will be as revolutionary as the advent of the Japanese players. Once upon a time Toyota, Mitsubishi, Subaru, Daihatsu and Datsun/Nissan were also regarded as curiosities with comical, unpronounceable names.

A spokeswoman for IM Group, Great Wall's Birmingham-based importers, confirmed that the launch of the cars is "on track" for the first quarter of 2011 and that the Chinese cars had been made available to traders. Kate Bishop added: "We've been recruiting dealers and they were able to drive the cars at the Motor Trader Open Points Roadshow last month."

One dealer, Chathams of Edinburgh, has announced that it will be retailing Great Wall models next year. Campbell Chatham, managing director, told Motor Trader that his group was in advanced negotiations with Great Wall: "We're the preferred supplier for Edinburgh. We saw the cars and shook hands." He added: "We started with Honda in the 1960s when there was a reluctance to buy Japanese. We then started to sell Skodas. With Great Wall we'll do it again, only this time there's no negative image."

However, the general image of Chinese cars is that they are blatant "knock-offs" of Western designs and have poor safety standards. In one notorious German crash test, the Jiangling Landwind performed terribly and its styling bore a remarkable resemblance to a 1980s Vauxhall Frontera SUV. Fiat has even taken Great Wall to court over the similarity between the Great Wall Perry and the Fiat Panda and other Chinese makes have been involved in wrangles with American, European, Japanese and Korean companies.

Chinese cars also tend to suffer from the use of lower-grade plastics and inferior fit and finish. But while Chinese-branded cars are a novelty here, many of the world's largest car manufacturers have a substantial presence in China, which is now the world's biggest car market and its largest car producer – 14 million units last year – 10 times the UK output.

Volkswagen, General Motors, Peugeot-Citroen and others have been involved in China for years. Honda manufactures its small Jazz hatch there and, until production went to Swindon last year, some Chinese-built Jazz models were sold in Britain.

But in a further indication of how globalised the car industry is, some of the Great Wall cars to be sold in the UK may actually be built in Bulgaria.

PROMOTED VIDEO
News
Bourgogne wine maker Laboure-Roi vice president Thibault Garin (L) offers the company's 2013 Beaujolais Nouveau wine to the guest in the wine spa at the Hakone Yunessun spa resort facilities in Hakone town, Kanagawa prefecture, some 100-kilometre west of Tokyo
i100
Voices
Oscar Pistorius is led out of court in Pretoria. Pistorius received a five-year prison sentence for culpable homicide by judge Thokozile Masipais for the killing of his girlfriend Reeva Steenkamp
voicesThokozile Masipa simply had no choice but to jail the athlete
Arts and Entertainment
James Blunt's debut album Back to Bedlam shot him to fame in 2004
music

Singer says the track was 'force-fed down people's throats'

News
i100
Life and Style
The Tinder app has around 10 million users worldwide

techThe original free dating app will remain the same, developers say

Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

ES Rentals

    iJobs Job Widget
    iJobs General

    IT Project Manager

    Competitive: Clearwater People Solutions Ltd: Our client based in Chelmsford a...

    Business Intelligence Specialist - work from home

    £40000 per annum: Ashdown Group: An established and growing IT Consultancy fir...

    Business Intelligence Specialist - work from home

    £40000 per annum: Ashdown Group: An established and growing IT Consultancy fir...

    IT Manager

    £40000 - £45000 per annum + pension, healthcare,25 days: Ashdown Group: An est...

    Day In a Page

    Two super-sized ships have cruised into British waters, but how big can these behemoths get?

    Super-sized ships: How big can they get?

    Two of the largest vessels in the world cruised into UK waters last week
    British doctors on brink of 'cure' for paralysis with spinal cord treatment

    British doctors on brink of cure for paralysis

    Sufferers can now be offered the possibility of cure thanks to a revolutionary implant of regenerative cells
    Let's talk about loss

    We need to talk about loss

    Secrecy and silence surround stillbirth
    Will there be an all-female mission to Mars?

    Will there be an all-female mission to Mars?

    Women may be better suited to space travel than men are
    Oscar Pistorius sentencing: The athlete's wealth and notoriety have provoked a long overdue debate on South African prisons

    'They poured water on, then electrified me...'

    If Oscar Pistorius is sent to jail, his experience will not be that of other inmates
    James Wharton: The former Guard now fighting discrimination against gay soldiers

    The former Guard now fighting discrimination against gay soldiers

    Life after the Army has brought new battles for the LGBT activist James Wharton
    Ebola in the US: Panic over the virus threatens to infect President Obama's midterms

    Panic over Ebola threatens to infect the midterms

    Just one person has died, yet November's elections may be affected by what Republicans call 'Obama's Katrina', says Rupert Cornwell
    Premier League coaches join the RSC to swap the tricks of their trades

    Darling, you were fabulous! But offside...

    Premier League coaches are joining the RSC to learn acting skills, and in turn they will teach its actors to play football. Nick Clark finds out why
    How to dress with authority: Kirsty Wark and Camila Batmanghelidjh discuss the changing role of fashion in women's workwear

    How to dress with authority

    Kirsty Wark and Camila Batmanghelidjh discuss the changing role of fashion in women's workwear
    New book on Joy Division's Ian Curtis sheds new light on the life of the late singer

    New book on Ian Curtis sheds fresh light on the life of the late singer

    'Joy Division were making art... Ian was for real' says author Jon Savage
    Sean Harris: A rare interview with British acting's secret weapon

    Sean Harris: A rare interview with British acting's secret weapon

    The Bafta-winner talks Hollywood, being branded a psycho, and how Barbra Streisand is his true inspiration
    Tim Minchin, interview: The musician, comedian and world's favourite ginger is on scorching form

    Tim Minchin interview

    For a no-holds-barred comedian who is scathing about woolly thinking and oppressive religiosity, he is surprisingly gentle in person
    Boris Johnson's boozing won't win the puritan vote

    Boris's boozing won't win the puritan vote

    Many of us Brits still disapprove of conspicuous consumption – it's the way we were raised, says DJ Taylor
    Ash frontman Tim Wheeler reveals how he came to terms with his father's dementia

    Tim Wheeler: Alzheimer's, memories and my dad

    Wheeler's dad suffered from Alzheimer's for three years. When he died, there was only one way the Ash frontman knew how to respond: with a heartfelt solo album