DETROIT -- China's Geely Automobile Holdings will start recruiting dealers in a year, says John Harmer, COO of Geely USA Inc.
"Our mission (at the show) is not to recruit distributors, it is to introduce our car," he says. The company has already gotten inquiries from dealers, he adds.
Geely models are already being tested and should be totally compliant with U.S. safety and emissions standards within 18 months, Harmer says.
Geely aims to begin selling cars in the United States in fall 2008.
Geely chairman Li Shufu cautions that the date to begin selling cars is not definite, however. "What will determine that is when we can meet the regulatory requirements," he says.
Says Harmer: "We anticipate we can sell 5,000 cars in our first year, and 100,000 a year by our fifth year."
Geely is the first Chinese automaker to show a model at the Detroit show. The first model it will bring to the U.S. market is a future generation of the car it is showing here, says Harmer.
The small sedan is known as the Geely CK, because it was jointly developed in China and Korea. It will sell for less than $10,000.
Geely aims to position itself as an affordable family car, much like its image in the China market.
Malcolm Bricklin is also trumpeting plans to import cars made by China's Chery Automotive Co. beginning in 2007. Dealer recruitment has been slow, however, because he is asking for a $2 million investment. Chery is not showing a model at the show.