Selling Chinese cars in U.S. proves to be an elusive goal

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“It takes a number of things,” Thompson said, referring to how HAAH intends to go to market. “It’s not just the pricing, it’s the HAAH philosophy. No haggle, no hassle, one price, totally digital. The easiest way you can buy a car.”

Add a 15 to 20 percent discount over competitors, and you have retail disruption, she said.

Sales are expected to begin by the first quarter of 2022.

But the company is having to be flexible.

It originally planned to launch U.S. sales through an agreement with Zotye Auto, selling crossovers imported from China. HAAH started recruiting U.S. dealers in 2018. That was about the same time that Zotye’s bigger Chinese rival, GAC Motor, also was pitching its business model to U.S. dealers.

GAC suspended its U.S. efforts in 2019, citing U.S.-China trade tensions.

In May, HAAH said it was suspending its plan to import Zotye vehicles because of Zotye’s financial troubles back in China.

Zotye tried previously to break into the U.S. with the backing of a dealership group. At that time, it was selling an electric crossover.

Hale said using Chery to create the Vantas brand will help to distinguish the U.S.- assembled vehicles from their Chinese counterparts in the minds of consumers.

“It’s an American brand, assembled by Americans, with global parts from all over the world,” said Hale, whose career includes stints at Chrysler, Ford, Isuzu, Mazda and Volvo. “We see it as American.”

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Saurabh Shukla

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