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.

News
newsAnother week, another dress controversy on the internet
Life and Style
Scientist have developed a test which predicts whether you'll live for another ten years
health
Life and Style
Marie had fake ID, in the name of Johanna Koch, after she evaded capture by the Nazis in wartime Berlin
historyOne woman's secret life as a Jew in wartime Berlin
News
news... and what your reaction to the creatures above says about you
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

    Recruitment Genius: Telesales & Customer Service Executive - Call Centre Jobs

    £7 - £9 per hour: Recruitment Genius: Are you outgoing? Do you want to work in...

    Ashdown Group: Finance Manager - Covent Garden, central London - £45k - £55k

    £45000 - £55000 per annum + 30 days holiday: Ashdown Group: Finance Manager - ...

    Ashdown Group: Systems Administrator - Lancashire - £30,000

    £28000 - £30000 per annum: Ashdown Group: 3rd Line Support Engineer / Network ...

    Recruitment Genius: Graduate Web Developer

    £26000 - £33000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: A Web Developer is required to ...

    Day In a Page

    Syrian conflict is the world's first 'climate change war', say scientists, but it won't be the last one

    Climate change key in Syrian conflict

    And it will trigger more war in future
    How I outwitted the Gestapo

    How I outwitted the Gestapo

    My life as a Jew in wartime Berlin
    The nation's favourite animal revealed

    The nation's favourite animal revealed

    Women like cuddly creatures whilst men like creepy-crawlies
    Is this the way to get young people to vote?

    Getting young people to vote

    From #VOTESELFISH to Bite the Ballot
    Poldark star Heida Reed: 'I don't think a single bodice gets ripped'

    Poldark star Heida Reed

    'I don't think a single bodice gets ripped'
    The difference between America and Israel? There isn’t one

    The difference between America and Israel? There isn’t one

    Netanyahu knows he can get away with anything in America, says Robert Fisk
    Families clubbing together to build their own affordable accommodation

    Do It Yourself approach to securing a new house

    Community land trusts marking a new trend for taking the initiative away from developers
    Head of WWF UK: We didn’t send Cameron to the Arctic to see green ideas freeze

    David Nussbaum: We didn’t send Cameron to the Arctic to see green ideas freeze

    The head of WWF UK remains sanguine despite the Government’s failure to live up to its pledges on the environment
    Author Kazuo Ishiguro on being inspired by shoot-outs and samurai

    Author Kazuo Ishiguro on being inspired by shoot-outs and samurai

    Set in a mythologised 5th-century Britain, ‘The Buried Giant’ is a strange beast
    With money, corruption and drugs, this monk fears Buddhism in Thailand is a ‘poisoned fruit’

    Money, corruption and drugs

    The monk who fears Buddhism in Thailand is a ‘poisoned fruit’
    America's first slavery museum established at Django Unchained plantation - 150 years after slavery outlawed

    150 years after it was outlawed...

    ... America's first slavery museum is established in Louisiana
    Kelly Clarkson: How I snubbed Simon Cowell and become a Grammy-winning superstar

    Kelly Clarkson: How I snubbed Simon Cowell and become a Grammy-winning superstar

    The first 'American Idol' winner on how she manages to remain her own woman – Jane Austen fascination and all
    Tony Oursler on exploring our uneasy relationship with technology with his new show

    You won't believe your eyes

    Tony Oursler's new show explores our uneasy relationship with technology. He's one of a growing number of artists with that preoccupation
    Ian Herbert: Peter Moores must go. He should never have been brought back to fail again

    Moores must go. He should never have been brought back to fail again

    The England coach leaves players to find solutions - which makes you wonder where he adds value, says Ian Herbert
    War with Isis: Fears that the looming battle for Mosul will unleash 'a million refugees'

    The battle for Mosul will unleash 'a million refugees'

    Aid agencies prepare for vast exodus following planned Iraqi offensive against the Isis-held city, reports Patrick Cockburn