"The Chinese are coming, the Chinese are coming!" If Paul Revere were alive today--and perhaps held a job as an automotive analyst--his famous words warning of the imminent arrival of British troops might sound a little different now that Geely has become the first-ever Chinese automaker to exhibit at the Detroit auto show. Geely is showing a four-door sedan known as the 7151 CK, and the automaker intends to bring the car first to Puerto Rico in 2007 before offering it to American buyers six to eight months later.
The 7151 CK (which would in all likelihood be renamed for North America) is powered by a small, four-cylinder engine, and would cost less than $10,000. Given the iffy fit and finish and 1980s styling of the models Geely has shown to date, that price better be well under $10,000 or people will have no reason to buy one instead of relatively refined Korean cars like the Chevrolet Aveo and the Kia Rio, both of which have base prices near the $10,000 mark. Similar doubts were, however, pinned to early Japanese and Korean offerings, and now Japan's Toyota is poised to become the world's number one automaker in 2006 while South Korea's Hyundai is collecting kudos and quality awards at a steadily increasing clip. Between Geely's presence at Detroit and the 2007 debut Chery Chinese cars (if you believe Malcolm Bricklin can pull it off), it would seem that question is no longer if, but when.