PARIS – Bamboo wind chimes are ringing in Europe as the Frankfurt auto show, which begins next week, approaches.
At least four of China's most-aggressive small auto makers will display vehicles at the show. They include Geely Holding Group, Brilliance China Automotive Holdings Ltd., Chang'an Automobile Group Corp. and Hafei Automobile Co. Ltd.
Chery Automobile Co. Ltd., which earlier in the year announced plans to export cars to the U.S., reportedly will be there as well, although that is not confimed. (See related story: Chery Hires Former Toyota China Head)
Hafei showed a concept at the Geneva show this spring, and Brilliance unveiled its intended BMW-fighter at a Leipzig (Germany) auto show. But for the rest of the companies, their displays in Hall 4 mark their first introduction to the European public.
China's two dominant government-owned auto makers, Shanghai Automotive Industry Corp. and First Auto Works, also will be represented at the show in the form of subsidiaries that make auto parts, along with several other Chinese parts suppliers.
Brilliance, the leading maker of minivans in China and partner with BMW AG, has said it will begin exports to Europe this fall. The company is certain to display the new M2, also known as the Splendor, which already was shown in Shanghai.
The car has some of the best quality of any current Chinese-made vehicles, with luxury materials in the interior and neat shut lines in the bodywork.
Brilliance showed the M1, known as the Zhonghua, at Leipzig to help build awareness of the brand. The Frankfurt display is under the name of Euro Motors (Gibralter), the local importer.
Brilliance has a serious industrial footprint that calls on many global suppliers: robots from Kuka Robot Group; a Durr Industries paint shop; seats from Johnson Controls Inc.; Michelin Group tires and a Delphi Corp. engine-management system. The 4-cyl. 137-hp 2L engine is from a joint venture with Mitsubishi Motors Corp. in China.
Brilliance, listed on the Hong Kong and New York stock exchanges, gained notoriety in 2002 when its chairman, tycoon Yang Roon, was ousted by the Lioning provincial government and his 39.4% shareholding confiscated.
Geely, China's leading private auto maker, reportedly will display five cars in Frankfurt. They include the Haoqing 203A, China Dragon, Marindo 303H, Freedom Ship and a model temporarily named the Geely FC.
For the show, the China Dragon has been made up to evoke a Chinese opera, and the steering wheel of the Haoqing 203A is on the right side.
Chang'an will display vehicles from its Jiangling Landwind subsidiary. At the Shanghai show in April, the auto maker displayed a prototype called the Fengshang, a futuristic minivan of a size that would compete with the likes of the Renault Scenic and Opel Zafira.
Hafei at Geneva showed its Saibao, a compact family car designed by Pininfarina SpA. At the time, Hafei Chairman Liu Tao said production would start early in 2006, and exports to Europe would begin in the next two to three years.