With the rollout of its Chinese-made trucks only a year away, Chamco — a partnership formed to import vehicles for U.S. dealers — faces troubling questions about its ability to deliver the vehicles.
China America Cooperative Automotive Inc., or Chamco, says it will begin selling a Chinese-made pickup and SUV next year — plus a car and crossover later — through a network of 75 dealers.
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The company has displayed its vehicles at the Detroit auto show. The SUV is a mid-sized five-passenger vehicle about as long as a Ford Explorer, while the pickup is the size of a Ford Ranger.
Company executives brag that these vehicles will be priced so low that customers will flock to dealerships. But questions remain about Chamco's thin capitalization, retail financing, murky corporate structure, abortive plans for a Mexican assembly plant and its timetable for vehicle imports.
-- For the second time, Chamco has delayed its launch date for sales, and has scrapped plans to display production vehicles at the New York auto show in March.
-- The company projects hefty North American sales within four years even though its Chinese partner, Hebei Zhongxing Automobile Co., sold only 36,800 vehicles last year. It's unclear whether the automaker can meet U.S. safety and emissions standards in time for the launch.
-- Chamco has temporarily abandoned efforts to build its trucks in Mexico. The company blamed the Mexican government for not living up to undisclosed promises to help it build a $300 million assembly plant near Tijuana.
-- Corporate executives are vague about the identities of the company's founding partners and its capitalization.
Despite all this, Chamco Chairman Bill Pollack is moving ahead with plans to recruit an additional 75 dealers. Chamco originally required dealers to invest $300,000 in the company but is no longer making the investment mandatory.
"We are clearly making progress on all fronts," Pollack said. "I like where we are headed."
Source: Automotive News