BEIJING -- Chinese car maker Chery is not yet ready to export its vehicles to the United States because of worries it might struggle to woo consumers in the world's largest auto market, its top executive said on Wednesday.
But the unlisted firm is optimistic about growth within China, expecting to sell 180,000 units this year, and 5 percent more in 2006, its President Yin Tongyao said.
Chery already exports 10 percent of its cars but it is reluctant to take on the world's largest auto market just yet, Yin said.
"We have investigated U.S. consumers, but entering the U.S. market is like swimming in water that is too deep -- we are scared of drowning," Yin told reporters on the sidelines of an industry forum.
"We need more time to prepare ... U.S. technology and U.S. consumer habits are too different," he added, declining to say exactly when Chery might enter the U.S. market. "There are still things at home we haven't finished off."
Privately held U.S. firm Visionary Vehicles has signed a deal with Chery and aims to sell 250,000 of its vehicles in 2007 and eventually one million units annually.
However, the company's Chief Executive Malcolm Bricklin said in September the launch of the cars could be delayed by a few months because of changes in product specifications.
At home the firm is flourishing though, with market share of around 6-7 percent, up from 3-4 percent at the end of last year, Yin said.
GM Daewoo Automotive & Technology Co. dropped a lawsuit against Chery after the companies resolved a dispute over a sub-compact car model's design, the South Korean company said on Saturday.
Yin said the firms had agreed not to disclose details. He declined further comment.