Chinese expansion is on

With other things to worry about, like slumping car sales and the credit crunch, we haven't heard much lately about the likelihood of Chinese automakers landing in the U.S. auto market.

Some of the industry's smart money is now betting that Indian truck maker Mahindra & Mahindra -- and maybe even Tata -- will be here long before any Chinese cars go on sale.

But elsewhere, the push into Western markets is on for the Chinese.

Chinese automaker First Automobile Works still plans to produce vehicles in Mexico along with Grupo Salinas, a Mexican industrial group.

And in Europe, the Chinese automaker Brilliance Jinbei Automotive is launching a second, smaller model -- the BS4 -- in Germany.

Brilliance, which in China is a manufacturing partner of BMW, hopes to avoid the dismal launch it suffered last year when the BS6 did poorly in a crash test.

Our sister publication Automobilwoche reports the company that imports the Brilliance vehicles expects to sell 10,000 of them in Europe next year.

We'll see.

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