SAN FRANCISCO — Two Chinese automakers used the NADA Show to woo dealers and further shape their distribution networks as they aim to start selling vehicles to U.S. consumers next year.
Zotye USA named its first 10 U.S. franchised retailers, covering 19 points, and said it was in "serious discussions" with about 100 more ahead of an expected launch in late 2020. It also began to lay out some details of its retail strategy, including plans to standardize pricing, prioritize online sales and pay dealers a commission, according to those who signed with the brand.
Meanwhile, GAC Motor, which has pushed back its U.S. debut to mid-2020 from late this year in response to the Trump administration's 25 percent tariff on Chinese imports, was less transparent about its plans at the show. Company officials said they met with 80 dealers and partners.
Both automakers are attempting to break into the U.S. market amid declining new-vehicle sales and rising trade tensions with China.
They and other Chinese brands have quietly set up r&d centers and supplier operations stateside in recent years, but none have actually put any vehicles made in China on U.S. roads.
"It shows these companies have patience and the funding to support their ambitions," Stephanie Brinley, principal analyst at IHS Markit, told Automotive News. "They're really trying to understand the market and they're investing time and energy to make sure they arrive with products that are in strong alignment with customer tastes. We've been talking about Chinese automakers in the U.S. for at least a decade, but we have two that are making a little bit more headway."