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Private Carmaker Geely to Exhibit at Detroit Auto Show


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Tech Gets Geely Ready for Detroit

Beijing -- China’s private carmaker Geely Holding Group will be exhibiting at the annual North American International Auto Show (NAIAS) in January 2006 in Detroit, according to a front page story to be published in the inaugural January 2006 issue of China Automotive Review (CAR).

Geely chairman Li Shufu made the announcement early last week at an international conference held in Shanghai. “We will be exhibiting in Detroit next January,” Li said in a prepared presentation at a two-day seminar organized by the China European International Business School (CEIBS).

Liu Jianquan, assistant to Geely chairman Li Shufu, confirmed the automaker’s participation in a telephone conversation.

NAIAS organizer told CAR in a telephone interview that Geely has booked 900 square feet of space at the concourse of the Cobo Hall in Detroit. The annual NAIAS or Detroit Auto Show will be open to the public on January 14-22, 2006.

In addition to exhibiting at one of the world’s leading auto shows, Geely will test the North American market by selling its cars. “We sent 12 cars last April to the U.S. for DOT certification,” said Zhao Jie, president of Geely International Corp. who was in Shanghai at the CEIBS seminar to speak on behalf of Li.

This will be the first time in the 98-year history of the Detroit Auto Show to have a Chinese carmaker displaying its vehicles. Although industry analysts have been anticipating such a possibility, nobody has expected that it would happen in 2006.

During the 2004 Detroit Auto Show, Keith Crain, publisher of Automotive News and Li Qingwen, publisher of Zhongguo Qiche Bao (China Automotive News) reportedly made a bet on when Chinese made automobiles would exhibit in Detroit. “Definitely in five years,” Li told Crain. “I agree,” Crain said, “but most likely Chinese cars will first go to Geneva.”

Last September Geely made history at the IAA in Frankfurt to display five of its car models (see “Chinese made cars: the talk of the town in Frankfurt”, China Automotive Review, November 2005).

Zhao said that 2,000 media, 3,000 reporters and 500,000 visitors visited the Geely Pavilion during the Frankfurt Motor Show. “It was the first time that China’s national flag was hoisted at the show ground in its 108-year history,” Zhao said. “It was quite an exciting experience for us.”

While the purpose of Geely’s participation in IAA was to test the market in Europe, the decision to exhibit in Detroit came with efforts to also sell Geely cars in the U.S. Asked about if the quality of Geely cars are up to the American or European standards, Zhao said the company is doing its best in ensuring the quality of Geely cars by working together with suppliers.

“In a way we are at a similar situation like Toyota 30 years ago and Korean automakers 20 years ago when they tried to enter the North American market,” Zhao said. “It will take time for us to catch up in quality. Right now we are trying to optimize our production process and quality control,” he said.

Geely started exporting cars in 2003 and total export in 2004 reached 9,000 units and the number may double in 2005. The company plans to export 1.2 million units of cars in 2015, or two thirds of its total annual output.

Geely may not be the only Chinese automaker to exhibit in Detroit. NAIAS organizer told CAR that Great Wall Automobile Group, a private automaker in Baoding of Hebei Province, has also applied for a display space. “We welcome Chinese automakers to exhibit in Detroit,” said a NAIAS spokeswoman. “We will make space for them.”

(China Automotive Review is a tabloid monthly magazine distributed worldwide. For further information, please contact Lei Xing at 00 86 10 8451 2511-103, email: lxing@cbuauto.com or visit www.chinaautoreview.com.