Chinese Give New Meaning To "Compact Car". That's Going To Leave A Mark!

Have you guys watched the video of the Chinese car, a Chery Amulet, being crash tested ? It’s worth a look.

The article by Jim Motovalli is interesting, too.

The link is right on Car Talk, but here it is for you convenience, anyhow.


Do you think the tests were “biased” or do you think the cars have a ways to go before coming here ?


I agree that these cars have a loooooong way to go before they would be accepted in the US marketplace.
That being said, early Japanese efforts in the US car market were…not exactly stellar either.

My brother had the misfortune to own a brandy-new Datsun SPL-310, circa 1967. It was essentially a Japanese copy of the contemporary MG’s mechanical parts. Really fast, but also really poor quality.

Within the first year, rust overwhelmed the chrome on both of the bumpers, and the sheet metal surrounding the attachments for the tonneau cover was also rust-laden. (The latter hardly mattered, as the tonneau cover did not fit anyway, and could never be used!)

The area underneath the windshield leaked so badly that, during a rainstorm, the passenger’s feet and legs would become soaked within just 15 minutes or so. No matter what any mechanic attempted, the engine would not start if the ambient temperature was below ~38 degrees.

What about warranty service, you ask?
The Datsun dealership’s service department consisted of one very old man whose job it was to prep the cars for delivery. Translation–he washed the cars.

Anything more technical than a car wash meant that the dealership took the car to the Gulf station about a block away. The guys at the Gulf station had worked on very few foreign cars in total, and were absolutely unfamiliar with the Datsun. Anything that they attempted was essentially to no avail.

If you brought the car back to the dealership a second time for the same complaint, they used their pseudo-Mafia Hit Man attitude to convince you to leave. (Note: This was in a very blue-collar neighborhood in Jersey City, NJ, so that may help you to visualize the customer service policies of these guys.) Clearly, it was not important to Datsun at this point in their existence to require dealerships to have a functioning service department, or to provide training to service personnel. That does not say anything positive about the company’s attitude toward quality.

Perhaps the most bizarre part of the car’s design was that of the air intake system. There was one large oval air cleaner that covered both of the side-draft carburetors. After a year or so, I decided to do my brother a favor and replace the air filter element. Unfortunately, the proximity of the carbs and the air cleaner to the left fender made it impossible to remove the air filter. In order to replace the air filter on this car, it was necessary to first remove the 2 side-draft carbs!

Clearly, the Japanese did learn after a decade or so (largely from Americans) how to build decent cars.
I’m sure that the Chinese will also learn this skill from foreigners–eventually.
However, the traditions for product excellence in those two countries is so different that I believe it will take the Chinese far longer to learn about high-quality.

Time will tell.

This test appears to be the IIHS/HLDI offset frontal crash test administered to all cars sold in the USA. It’s a crash at 40 MPH into a deformable barrier. They have a long way to go if they want to sell cars in Europe or North America. OTOH, Beijing’s auto population grows at a rate of 2000 per day. Maybe they don’t need expanding sales outside thier borders at this time. When they want to, they will engineer their cars to pass whatever tests are required for the new market. But I doubt that will be for at least 5 years; probably more.