BRUSSELS -- The first Chinese cars for sale in Western Europe arrived in the Belgian port of Antwerp on Tuesday, threatening to undercut European manufacturers already struggling with weak demand for their own models.
Dutch car dealer Peter Bijvelds said he had already found buyers for the 200 Landwind five-door sports utility vehicles (SUVs) and was confident of selling about 2,000 of them this year.
Bijvelds said he was selling the cars, made by Jiangling Landwind Motor of Jiangling Motors Group, for nearly half the price of their nearest competitor.
"I think there's a big market," he told Reuters.
Bijvelds has a five-year exclusive deal with Jiangling to sell the SUVs in 27 European countries, and said he was holding talks to set up a distribution network in Belgium before expanding across the continent.
Priced at about 17,000 euros ($20,220) after taxes in the Netherlands, the SUV will be the last thing Europe's car makers want to see on the road as they grapple with weak consumer spending, high raw material and fuel costs and relentless price competition.
Bijvelds' dealership, based in the southeastern Dutch village of Erp, is making slight alterations to the Chinese vehicles to meet Europe's strict emissions standards.
One version of the SUV has a 2.8 liter diesel engine made by General Motors. It is also available with a 2 liter or 2.4 liter petrol engine made by Mitsubishi.