China's largest private auto maker, Geely Automobile Holding Co., will bring
one car to the North American International Auto Show in Detroit in January as
way of introducing itself to the North American media.
The CK, a South Korean-designed car that Geely put into production in May in
China, is powered by a 1.5L, 4-cyl. gasoline engine making 94 hp at 6,000 rpm.
It features China's first domestic-built automatic transmission.(See related story: Geely to Sell Chinese Cars in U.S.)
Jenny Jin, vice general manager and auto business director for Geely Holding,
says Geely is bringing the car primarily for the media conference. The time and
date for the press conference has yet to be announced.
Geely, founded by Chinese businessman Li Shufu, took five cars to the
Frankfurt auto show last September, including the CK. Its name in Chinese
translates to "Freedom Ship" or "Free Cruiser." (See related story: Chinese Auto Makers to Debut at Frankfurt)
Geely unit sales jumped 76% in November following a whopping 98% in October,
to 115,153 units year-to-date, the company says. The CK, Geely’s newest
product, added about 20,000 units of growth through November, during which more
than 4,000 vehicles were sold.
Geely, expanding capacity to build more CKs, this fall invested in two new
production sites in China, in Xiangtan (10,000 units) and Lanzhou (50,000
The auto maker has four other plants in operation in China: Linhai; Ningbo;
Taizhou; and Shanghai; with a total planned capacity of 650,000 units in 2007.
Company headquarters are in Hangzhou, the capital city of Zhejiang province.
The ambitious auto maker has said it plans to produce 1 million vehicles in
2010 and 2 million by 2015. Listed on the Hong Kong stock exchange, the company
has been building cars only since 1998.
Geely President Xu Gang said last year that Geely "will introduce a slew
of new products, including recreational vehicles and sport/utility vehicles, in
cooperation with foreign automobile design companies."
"In a way, we are at a similar situation like Toyota (Motor Corp.) 30
years ago and Korean auto makers 20 years ago, when they tried to enter the
North American market," Zhao Jie, president of Geely International Corp.,
the company's export branch, tells a Chinese trade publication.
"It will take time for us to catch up in quality. Right now, we are
trying to optimize our production process and quality control."
Zhao says 3,000 journalists and 500,000 visitors saw the Geely Pavilion at
the recent Frankfurt show.
Geely began exporting cars in 2003 to the Middle East, Africa and Central and
South America. A company spokesman says it will be at least two years before it
begins exports to Europe.
Great Wall Automobile Co., another independent Chinese auto maker, is said to
be interested in participating at the Detroit show, as well, but the company did
not immediately answer requests for confirmation.
Great Wall displayed its Hover SUV and Deer pickup at the Bologna auto show
in Italy in November. (See related story: Great Wall Displays Chinese Vehicles at Bologna Show)