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2007 Detroit Auto Show; Changfeng Motors Plants Stake in Detroit - VIDEO ENHANCED

Changfeng (select to view enlarged photo)
Changfeng Liebao CS6: Changfeng’s latest model supplants Mitsubishi-designed SUVs

Changfeng (select to view enlarged photo)
Li Jianxin: Changfeng is the biggest SUV-maker in China

Changfeng (select to view enlarged photo)
Changfeng Rhombus

By Nigel Bernhard
Editor TACH UK

Detroit January 15, 2007;The Chinese invasion of the US car market was widely predicted – but so far it hasn’t materialised, with manufacturers such as Chery and Geely backing off from plans announced by their US distributors.

Neither showed up at Detroit this year, and nor did Landwind or Great Wall, two other Chinese firms that had a strong presence at last year’s Paris show.

But one Chinese manufacturer did make an appearance – Changfeng Motor drew a big crowd to announce its intention to begin exports to the US within the next couple of years, together with a number of new models, mainly SUVs and pick-ups.

(Click PLAY button below to watch the entire Changfeng Press Conference)

In a slightly comical presentation, the attendant media was treated to a “propaganda film” entitled “Developing through innovations in pursuit of the great”. Eat your heart out, Borat!

This gave details of the company’s history and impressive manufacturing capabilities, which have been built since 1996, when the company switched from the defence sector to car manufacture, though its presentation raised a few smiles as the voiceover man barked “Dragons are taking off! Cheetahs are leaping forward!” over a stirring oriental soundtrack of ‘Jerusalem’.

Changfeng’s chairman Li Jianxin said the company was the largest maker of SUVs in China. Most of its sales are of cars derived from Mitsubishi Shogun models, built under licence from Mitsubishi, though the company has sin e 2004 been building cars it designed itself as well. It’s a small company by Chinese standards, claiming to have a capacity to build 100,000 cars a year at three plants.

Its most significant launch at Detroit was a large SUV called the Liebao CS6, which was unveiled along with a small pick-up called the Feibao CT5. A much weirder concept was the Rhombus, which looks like two Reliant Robins joined together. This odd-ball car is a design study by a Chinese university which works closely with Changfeng.

The company already exports to other emerging markets in the Middle East, Eastern Europe and Africa, and while Li did not specify when US sales would start, he said one of the main reasons for coming to the Detroit Show was to forge links with suppliers and potential partners.