US Automakers Still Selling Well Someplace! (“Big Three” Have Hope In China)



Recognize it? No? Are you sure? It’s pretty famous. And there are a lot of cars there, American and otherwise…in fact, so many that they outsold the US in vehicle sales for the first time ever last month. Give up? The photo’s taken from a busy intersection in Shanghai, and I’m betting that last sentence before “Give up?” probably twigged you to it, because there’s been lots of talk about this in normal news media lately.

There is, however, more to this story than meets the eye (isn’t there always?). Follow the jump for more.

Most news reports I’ve seen on the subject have talked about how big, bad China is now leading the world in auto sales. And then they’ve devolved into an instant “poor us” whinefest from someone or other to do with the Big Three, talking about how they can’t compete with cheaper, Chinese-made vehicles, and blah blah blah blah. Cue the sound of the world’s tiniest violins playing. Not to kick them when they’re down, of course, but complaining and crying without action never solved anything, did it? And no, begging for money alone does not constitute “action.”

But here’s the thing I find interesting: apparently, US car sales are actually doing quite well…in China. Because cheaper Chinese vehicles are seen as less safe, comfortable, and/or luxurious, Chinese car dealers which sell American makes are finding remarkable abilities to not only attract steady streams of customers, but to send those customers away only after they’ve signed on those lines which are dotted.

Granted, there isn’t as much money to be made on vehicles sold in China as there are in other parts of the world, including the US. And the numbers still aren’t great enough that China’s anywhere near ready to become the Big Three’s sole source of revenue—yet. But these trends are worth noting—and obviously not just because of the fact that China’s overtaken the US in vehicle sales for the first time ever.