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Brilliance delays auto exports to US

BRILLIANCE China Automotive Holdings Ltd will delay vehicle exports to the United States by two years although its debut at the ongoing Detroit Autoshow is helping the firm to build up its brand image, according to a company source.

"A lot of factors, including which products to export and how to cooperate with overseas partners, remained uncertain," said the official in charge of overseas expansion. "We are still in the early stages of our entry to the United States. But it's a good time for us to finish the preparations amid a market downturn."

Brilliance Auto, the Chinese partner of Germany's BMW, had earlier planned to sell sedans under its Brilliance brand in the US in the first quarter of this year with partner Autokam Ltd. Exports to Germany started in 2006.

Slack demand

But the global financial crisis has hit the Big Three US car makers and resulted in slack demand for new vehicles. Other global car brands are cutting prices to bolster sales which eroded a major advantage of Chinese-made vehicles ?? their prices. This poses greater difficulties for Chinese car makers' overseas expansion. Other problems cited include safety concerns and having to create awareness of a new name to US consumers.

The company official said entering the US market would still remain a top priority and to this end Brilliance made its first appearance at the auto show with four models.

Another Chinese car maker, BYD Automobile Co Ltd, is upbeat about its foray into the US market as it plans to export its F3DM plug-in electric hybrid there in 2011. Building a local factory is also under study if the time is ripe, according to Wang Chuanfu, chairman of the car maker, backed by Warren Buffett.

The F3DM also debuted at the auto show after it was launched in China in December and costs 150,000 yuan (US$22,000). It's the world's first mass-produced electric car ahead of General Motor's Chevrolet Volt electric car.


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