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Chinese Automaker Zotye Automobile Signs Up Dealers in 100 U.S. Markets

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【Summary】Chinese automaker Zotye Automobile has big plans to sell its vehicles in the U.S. Zotye USA, the American distributor of Zotye has chosen retailers in 100 markets as it plans to launch sales of its first model in 2021.

FutureCar Staff    Oct 22, 2019 3:00 PM PT
Chinese Automaker Zotye Automobile Signs Up Dealers in 100 U.S. Markets
The Zotye T600 SUV on display at the Shanghai Auto Show in April.

Although China is the world's biggest auto market, Chinese automakers have yet to reach U.S. shores with their products, with the exception of a few China-made models built in joint ventures with U.S. automakers, like GM's Buick Envision compact SUV.

However, Chinese automaker Zotye Automobile has big plans to sell its vehicles in the U.S. Zotye USA, the American distributor of Zotye has chosen retailers in 100 markets as it plans to launch sales of its first model in 2021, Automotive News reports.

Zotye said it has agreements in ten states for vehicle sales and that it has closed the recruitment process in cities such as Atlanta; Austin, Texas; Houston; and Las Vegas.

Duke Hale, CEO for the U.S. distributor, said the filling of the first hundred spots is ahead of schedule, as it plans to have agreements signed in up to 250 markets before the launch with plans for even more. Eventually, the brand expects to have about 325 locations, the distributor said Tuesday.

"We're really pleased, though not surprised, that the milestone of signed appointments for 100 markets has been reached earlier than we first estimated," said Hale to Automotive News.

The first model to hit the U.S. will be a new version of the T600 compact crossover, the company has said. It will be followed by a second SUV and car. The T600 debuted in China as a 2013 model. The vehicle starts around 80,000 yuan ($11,300).

"This T600 is a perfect vehicle for the U.S. market and I'm very excited to announce it will be the first Zotye product to go on sale here," Hale said in May, when the plans to sell the vehicle here were first announced.

"Combine a dealer-friendly, transparent environment with an SUV that will have an extremely high level of safety equipment, great quality and durability, outstanding styling and a very attractive price, and it's no surprise we are beating our earlier plan," said Hale. 

Hale is also CEO of HAAH Automotive Holdings, which intends to distribute additional Chinese brands. The company was formed by Hale in Aug 2014 to obtain exclusive distribution rights for Asian automakers looking to enter new markets in the U.S.

In Oct 2018, HAAH became the exclusive, independent distributor for Zotye vehicles in the U.S. and Central America including all sales, distribution, parts and service.

So far, Zotye is the only major Chinese automaker pursuing its launch plans in the U.S. Other brands, such as Guangzhou Automobile Group (GAC), have put their plans on hold amid a U.S.-China trade tensions and tariffs between the world's two largest economies.

China said it would impose an additional tariff of 25% on autos imported from the U.S. beginning Dec 15, if a suitable trade deal cannot be reached between Beijing and the Trump administration. However, trade talks are progressing.

On Monday, President Donald Trump said a trade deal with China was "coming along very well." according to Reuters.

While Zotye is set to become the first Chinese automaker to sell cars in the U.S., Detroit-based General Motors and Ford Motor Co. have been selling vehicles in China for years. Both GM and Ford build cars in China for the local market in joint-venture factories.

Until recently, rules in China required that GM and Ford own no more than a 50% stake in their Chinese joint ventures, but they have been eased in 2018, opening up the world's largest auto market to foreign automakers. 

Electric automaker Tesla was the first U.S. automaker to take advantage of China relaxing of the rules by building its own factory there. Tesla's Shanghai factory is the first wholly-owned assembly plant run by a U.S. automaker in China.

China is an important market for Tesla and the company's new Shanghai Gigafactory is expected to start producing the Model 3 electric sedan locally to avoid tariffs.

resource from: Automotive News

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