/ Motoring

Will we buy China’s cars?

MG6 car

Chinese car manufacturer Great Wall has announced plans to sell its cars in the UK next year. But will its cars steer their way into British buyers’ hearts and minds?

Great Wall’s plans to enter the UK follow the long-running MG saga, which will reportedly bring the MG6, a Chinese-built medium car, to the UK by the end of 2010.

These represent the first serious attempt at car sales for Chinese brands for some time (the tiny-selling MG TF doesn’t really count).

Previous scare stories

Chinese brands have been making noises about UK imports for a while now, but they’ve been scared off by previous European sagas – like the LandWind and Brilliance crash test disasters (both of which halted imports).

Personally, I’m surprised it’s taken Chinese brands so long to import. Apparently, part of the reason for the delay is that China’s factories are working flat-out to satisfy local demand – which, in the world’s biggest populace, is potentially enormous.

But will these cars suit the tastes of British car buyers?

Back to the future

There’s an interesting parallel to draw with Japan’s cars, which were considered cheap and nasty in the early Seventies. Now, no one is laughing. Honda, Nissan and Toyota even build their cars here in the UK. And Japanese brands consistently perform well in the Which? Car survey.

I think it’s only a matter of time before we embrace China’s cars, with brands like Changfeng, Great Wall and Roewe soon being commonplace on our roads.


Well, we’re getting used to the likes of Kia, so if it’s cheap and good, people are going to buy them. That’s also sad for someone who remembers the shining metal of a well engineered BSA motorbike and the Honda revolution that put them out of business. Our manufacturing base shrinks steadily and, with it, a bit of national pride.


Agree with previous poster – even to my BSA motorcycle ( Though my Vincent was a finer machine) If the car is good and cheap people will buy it.- Sadly to the detriment of any UK built cars.

We certainly do need more investment in the UK manufacturing industry – otherwise we will continue to have an unacceptable unenployment rate for our own countries’ workers. We already have more unemployed than jobs – this is exacerbated by EU workers and immigrants.


I thought China had an enormous, locally unmeetable, need for steel. How could they manufacture for export on any scale if they are struggling for raw materials even for internal use?
As for the environmental impact of moving steel from producing countries to China to make cars to export to Europe….


In response to "Lorely’s" comment – Japan, too, has no raw materials, just about everything has to be imported in order to manufacture, "add value" and then export. The Japanese mantra after WW2 was "Export or Die". We know which option they took – and from the lowest starting point imaginable. China is starting from a better position, although I acknowledge that they have a huge internal market to satisfy as well.

lucky77 says:
4 August 2010

I think Geely’s acquisition of Volvo is an interesting step towards making Chinese cars more palatable for European customers. It’s unclear how much manufacturing will shift to China (not doubt some parts at least), but from now on, if you buy a Volvo you’re buying into the Chinese automotive industry. It’s certainly possible more famous European brands could go this way in the years to come.

Another aspect of this deal is that China needs to raise the safety standards of its domestically produced cars (as those shocking Landwind and Brilliance crash videos show). Who better to bring safety expertise to the table than Volvo?

Ray, says:
6 August 2010

I cannot agree more with this comment, but have you noticed the rapid decline in the size of the whole Volvo range ? Being over six feet tall myself, and well built, I have been a Volvo driver for many many years, but when my T70 estarte goes to the big scrap yard in the sky I am afraid it will be my last Volvo. The eastern body frame is a lot smaller than ours in general so there size and relability is in jepardy much to my regret.

Jeff says:
5 August 2010

If the cars are good and cheap then they’ll sell. Apart from Morgan and Bristol there are no British owned manufacturers in the U.K. so maybe we should all be buying Honda, Toyota and BMW to support British jobs. My BMW was made in Germany but the engine was made in England.

Sticky Toffee says:
6 August 2010

We have a Honda Jazz which has proved to be extremely reliable in Which tests. My understanding is that until last year when production was switched to Swindon, they were made in China


Back in the 60’s, people were wary of buying Japanese – look how they are doing now. Latterly, people were unsure of Korean cars, but they, too, are proving successful. Keen pricing and good equipment levels, plus strong reliability has helped to establish these Eastern manufacturers and now the Japanese are producung cars all over the world (because labour is cheaper than in Japan and they also get round import quotas). Given the vast manufacturing capacity of the Chinese and the current cheap labour market, exports to Europe, USA and beyond is certain to happen, if quality meets expectations at keen prices. We might be a little slow to embrace these products at first, but we will certainly be buying, especially at the cheaper end of the market. With vitually no true British manufacturers, loyalty to our own industry is not an issue, though many will prefer to buy Japanese to preserve British jobs. We are already buying many Chinese sourced domestic products, so country of production is becoming less of an issue, especially if we can seek to balance trade in other forms.

Alan 6/8/2010