September 3rd, 2007 05:29 EST
Moscow, Chinese cars’ safety under question
Chinese car manufacturers have dominated the show at Moscow’s Motor Expo, unveiling a line of new models. The newest kid on the block says Russia has become its biggest importer.
“After China it’s the second largest market for us. In 2005 we sold 1,600 Flyers on the Russian market. This year, I think, we can sell more that 4,000,” forecast Steven Li, Russian manager at BYD in Moscow.
However, cars from China are mired in scandal. The Noble and CEO are claimed to be so similar to Daimler’s SmartCar and the X5 that BMW says it may sue manufacturer Shanghuan if it exhibits the cars at the world’s biggest motor fair in Frankfurt next week.
The outcry has reached the highest levels, with German Chancellor, Angela Merkel, warning the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences that she will take this further.
"If a car suddenly appears looking like a Smart, but it’s a copy not legally manufactured, that is not good. Germany will openly address problems of plagiarism and copyright infringement,” stated Mrs Merkel.
China’s biggest car-maker Chery is facing the worst outcry. In a crash test its best-selling Amulet received unprecedented damage said researchers. The dummy became so entwined with the wreckage of the car that it had to be removed piece by piece.
The leading distributor of Chinese cars in Russia says the cars meet safety standards.
“Our reaction is simple. The cars on the Russian market meet official requirements. Great Wall off-roaders for example got 4 stars in safety tests like Euro NCAP, which is not bad,” stated Andrey Reznikov, Business Director at Irito in Moscow.
Justified or not, Chinese cars have a dubious reputation, with Russia becoming a testing ground for their launch worldwide.
Russia has been chosen for Princip model European launch. It was designed for the youth market by the world’s top car designer Pininfarina.
The country’s roads are the best test for Chinese cars' quality and safety concerns as they bid to reach Western levels of sophistication.