TURIN – The China-built Happy Emissary minicar has a tight deadline to meet.
Italian dealer group DR Automobiles is rushing to get the vehicle homologated for Europe before new pedestrian safety regulations take effect October 1.
Vehicles that receive a European compliance certificate before that date can be sold in European Union markets until 2012 without being required to make costly modifications to the car’s front-end.
DR Automobiles aims to sell 10,000 units a year of the five-door, high-roofed hatchback in all 25 EU countries.
The Happy Emissary must meet EU homologation standards for parts such as seat belts, headlight, rear lights, windows and fascia.
The problem is that many Chinese suppliers that make these parts have been slow to adapt their components to meet EU standards.
“FAW-Hongta fully understands the need for the European compliance certificate for parts, but some small suppliers, located in remote locations, are not used to such a request,” said Luca Falasca, DR Automobiles marketing director.
DR Automobiles is financing the cost of the European homologation, said to be around E200,000, while FAW-Hongta will pay for the new parts needed to meet European standards and to pass crash tests.
The Happy Emissary is derived from the old Daihatsu Move and is built by FAW-Hongta Yunnan Automobile Co. in a 100,000-unit-a-year factory in Quiing in southwest China’s Yunnan province.
Falasca said his company has a contract with FAW-Hongta to be the sole distributor of the Happy Emis-sary in the EU and hopes to bring the car to market early next year.
DR Automobiles is considering direct sales to big shopping malls in addition to traditional dealers.
“We have been contacted by many dealers, but before signing any contracts, we want to have the Happy Emissary homologated first,” Falasca said.
DR Automobiles is based in Isernia about 120km southeast of Rome.