For the fourth year in a row, a different Chinese automaker will make its debut at the North American International Auto Show. The new-to-NAIAS Chinese OEM at the Jan. 11-25 event in Detroit will be Brilliance Auto, which produces its own models under the Zhonghua (sedans) and Jinbei (minibuses and small trucks) brands, as well as 3 Series and 5 Series sedan models for BMW.
BYD Auto, a Chinese automaker that first exhibited at the NAIAS in 2008, will return for the '09 event. Both companies see a potentially lucrative market in the U.S.—but then again so did the first Chinese OEM exhibitor at NAIAS, Geely. At the 2006 event, that company stated its now-unrealized hope of beginning car exports to the U.S. by 2008.
Requests for details from Brilliance and BYD Auto about their plans for exporting vehicles to the U.S. were not provided. Both companies also are hoping to sell product in Europe and to that end have exhibited at auto shows there.
Brilliance China Automotive Holdings Ltd. is registered in Bermuda but says its head office is in Hong Kong. In 2007, it sold 106,770 sedans, an increase of 71.4% over previous-year sales, and 73,415 minibuses, a 10.8% increase. It built 32,100 sedans for BMW. The company also has a components division.
At last year’s NAIAS, BYD was one of four Chinese OEMs with displays, including two-time exhibitors Geely and Changfeng. BYD showed, among other things, a hybrid, the F6DM, that it said was slated to go on sale in China this year and in the U.S. within three to five years.
American investment firm MidAmerican Energy Holdings, a subsidiary of Warren Buffet’s Berkshire Hathaway Inc., in September announced it had agreed to invest about $230 million in a purchase of shares amounting to a 10% interest in BYD.