It seems everything is being built in China now – but only recently has that trend extended to all-things automotive. But if China’s track record of dodgy gadget knock-offs and poor craftsmanship is anything to go by, then I’d be very, very afraid of driving a one-tonne missile down the street. Even if it does have a slightly girly name like 'Chery'.
For years, Japan have long occupied most Australian’s dreams of an affordable and safe car. However, I’ve put emphasis on the latter characteristic, because most auto critics are already slamming the soon-to-arrive Chery J1 hatch because of China’s long-feared and much derided passenger safety record. Checkout the YouTube video below to get an idea of the structural integrity issues that older Chinese cars suffered from:
The Chery J1, not to mistaken for the soon-to be released Chinese made ‘Lemon’ (Okay, bad joke – but I had to go for it) looks like your regular city dwelling hatchback, and will retail for a measly $11,990 drive away, which I believe is cheaper than the black market kidney price being offered for your precious organs after a roll around in one of these cheapies.
In all seriousness, any Chinese-made car entering the Australian market will need to be fairly safe by default, in order to get clearance to operate within the strict legal framework of our roads. However, with that said - Chery's will not be available to purchase in Victoria because of some questionable stability control issues. Chery isn't the first Chinese car in Australia however, but it does appeal as one of the cheapest. It joins Great Wall Motors and Geely Motors (who recently purchased Volvo to my dismay) in a race to the bottom.
There isn't much in the way of extras with the Chery, but that's to be expected when you're paying less than $12,000. As for geeked out gadgets, there's the usual MP3 stereo, but not much else, says the SMH:
The J1 is a 1.3-litre five-door hatchback, available only as a manual. Standard equipment includes airconditioning, alloy wheels, power windows and an MP3 compatible stereo.
I know 'you get what you buy' in this world, but there is this little part of me that hopes Chinese made cars will provide decent value at the price of a 2nd hand Japanese car. While the cars go on sale next week, the ultimate question still needs to be asked: given the image of Chinese made cars, would you trust your family in one of these, no matter how safe the manufacturer tells you it is?
Giz readers, would you buy a Chinese made car? And how much would you pay?
Update: Some Giz readers are claiming the YouTube video is old and they are obviously correct. But the post had made it clear, that previous Chinese made cars had poor safety ratings and newer models will only be able to enter the Australian market if they pass stringent guidelines set up by the nation's car regulators (on a state by state basis, I might add). The video is designed to give some context of that lingering fear and is not representative of Chery or newer model Chinese cars. Besides, no car is perfect and crash test videos are usually worst case scenario's.