A taste of (chinese) things to come

Thu 6, October 2005 22:21:20

Another war of words has started in Europe, this time because of the LandWind. The LandWind is a low cost Chinese SUV, manufactured by the Jiangling Corporation, which recently debuted in the Netherlands. The importer is promoting it as the “first Chinese car in Europe”, and claiming it’s an excellent value-for-money car.
As usual, people were skeptical of the quality of the car, following the common preconception that “Chinese products = low cost + low quality”. Than this report came out:

Automobile association ANWB issued a warning on Wednesday about the safety of the Chinese sports utility vehicle on sale in the Netherlands. Tests have shown that the driver’s compartment of the ‘Jiangling Landwind’ would crumple in a frontal collision at 64 kph. The driver would be killed or seriously injured. The ANWB said the vehicle’s design mirrored the technical expertise achieved by western car makers 30 years ago.

Several more news came out about how unsafe this SUV was. Now the importer is fighting back, stating that it submitted the LandWind to a new test, and that although it’s not the safest car out there, it meets European regulations.

I have no comment on the quality of the SUV… I haven’t even seen one on the road yet! But what strikes me the most is this small paragraph on the FAQ section of the importer’s website (which is also not the best quality):

Are there a lot of Landwinds sold yet?
The 2.0L is already sold out.

Well, well… what’s the lesson here? There’s ALWAYS a market for low cost items. Even if a large part of the population is quality and safety conscious, cost is ultimately the final decision factor for many people, particularly when the economy is not exactly topnotch.
I believe this is another serious wake-up call for a lot of American and European companies, like car manufacturers, which are used to use their “prestige” as an excuse for demanding a premium price.
I believe we will see more and more of these examples, as the Asian companies start moving up the food chain, from the “cheap shirts” to luxury goods.
West, beware…

2 Responses to “A taste of (chinese) things to come”

S.H. wrote a comment on Sat 11, February 2006

Well, well, well. Sadly, too true.

parol wrote a comment on Tue 4, April 2006

Kjempe kuuuul hjemmeside du har.

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