Get ready

…for the entry of Chinese-made vehicles in the US marketplace!

Because they are made by GM, I assume that they will be able to comply with all US safety and emissions regulations, but because all of the parts are undoubtedly made in China, I am skeptical about the quality and durability of these vehicles.

There is a strong possibility that this vehicle may be a dud based mainly on your statement. Time will tell. Since my cousin sells new GM cars and trucks…I’m going to call him and set up a test drive when one of these cars arrives at the dealership. I don’t buy new cars anymore but I’m curious about this one. Besides…driving a new one may be my only chance to drive one at all. Used ones may not run…just like the Yugo of years past.

I’m curious. What is the root of the skepticism?

“What is the root of the skepticism?”

Have you ever seen the…quality…of brake discs made in China?
Have you ever purchased a small appliance made in China that was…shall we say…not of the highest quality?

I’m sure that it is possible to make high-quality products in China, but the issue in my mind is essentially…Will GM adequately police the quality of the parts made by their suppliers in China, in order to achieve decent quality levels in their vehicles?

“I’m curious. What is the root of the skepticism?”

Ever shop at the store that rhymes with Arbor Date? I shop there and purchase things, most of which comes from China, I believe. I pick and choose carefully, but it seems that although the prices are really great, but in my opinion, some quality seems to suffer.

On the other hand, a goodly number of vehicles come from South Korea. What would make them superior to Chinese made cars/trucks?


Do you have an I-Phone? I do, and the quality is great. They are made in China. Lenovo computers are also made in China. As you may know, before using the Lenovo name, those computers had the “IBM” logo on them.

“a goodly number of vehicles come from South Korea. What would make them superior to Chinese made cars/trucks?”

I have a theory or two regarding that conundrum.
First, the folks in South Korea weren’t limited by decades of communist rule and kept in poverty as a result of that rule. Now that earning money through capitalist enterprises is permitted in China, that quest has become a mania, and I think that–like many people who suddenly become money-mad–many of these newly-rich Chinese will do whatever it takes to make more money, even if it means compromises of various sorts, and even if the long-term business consequences are potentially negative.

Second, there is almost no Judeo-Christian tradition in China, and as a result, the moral concepts in that country are not the same as in South Korea, where many people are Christians. Think back to the poisoned dog food ingredients of a few years ago, or the ongoing contamination/adulteration of food products and drugs for human consumption in China. IMHO, anyone who could countenance the poisoning of people and animals just for the sake of making more money is not somebody who has the types of morals and ethics that we expect in societies with a Judeo-Christian tradition.

It’s all a matter of quality design and quality control in manufacturing. I have a house full of Chinese made electronics and they are as good as any.

HOWEVER, GM still does not practice the kind of rigid quality design standards as Toyota, for instance and although these cars may be initially reliable, they may not have the long design life we are now used to expecting.

Years ago Russian and Chech made cars appeared and did not last long in the marketplace.

China is probably at bout the same point as the Japanese were in the late 70s with respect to quality and durability. I’m not saying they can’t improve, but someone has to set the standards and hold them to it. Seven years from now we will know what they are really capable of.

“Do you have an I-Phone? I do, and the quality is great. They are made in China”

Well, as I had said, it is possible to make high-quality products in China.
It all depends on how careful/thorough a company is when subcontracting production to Chinese factories.

Apple has apparently been able to enforce high quality standards, albeit with such a high suicide rate at the factories run by their Chinese-supplier that it was necessary for that company to install nets to catch employees who decided to jump off the factory roof.

Will GM police the quality of their subcontractors’ parts sufficiently to ensure decent quality?
Only time will tell.

You’re suggesting that the company that gave us the Citation, the Cimmaron, the Aztec, and numerous other dogs, the company that went bankrupt despite having the greatest resources of any auto manufacturer in the history of the world, the company that tried to deny warranty work on cars built before their bankruptcy on the basis that they were a “new company”, the company that required a multi-billion dollar government bailout to survive… should be policing the Chinese? To do what, be sure they do it wrong?

Sorry guys, but China has come a long, long way since they only make rubber duckies. Meanwhile, GM has fallen a long, long way. Besides, there are far more Chinese that have graduated from U.S. universities with advanced and professional degrees in engineering and sciences these past few decades than there are U.S. citizens, a fact that has upset me for decades.

One man’s opinion. I know some of you will get upset.

Chinese made products can have perfectly acceptable quality. It depends greatly on the experience of those doing the job. Cars engineered in China by the Chinese, have only passed the German crash tests with a pathetic 2 star rating. The model that recently did pass with a 5 star rating, was engineered in Europe.

As @jtsanders points out, some high quality products with high profile American names come from China. The Chinese Buicks will likely be just fine.

The Chinese are learning quickly. Motorola found this out the hard way. They initially had the Chinese make their phones. Then they contracted the Chinese to design their simple phones while Motorola US designed the smart phones. Then the Chinese designed their OWN smart phones and Motorola sold out their now unprofitable phone business to Google for $12.4 B. Google then sold it to Lenovo for $2.9 B.

I made a business trip to Seoul one year ago. I was impressed with their strong desire to be world class at everything they do. It doesn’t happen over night, but the desire is there. It is paying off for South Korea. It seems to me the Chinese likely have the same desire and have and will learn from their mistakes. Don’t sell them short; don’t sell any competitor short. Skepticism as a consumer is OK, but it should be tempered with the thought that if others can do it, the Chinese can do it too.

Oh, and that stuff about morality? Are you kidding? Judeo-Christian traditions didn’t stop the investment bankers from screwing America (and the world) silly. There are many other examples, and I won’t get your riled up with them.

I think the cars can be made to be as good as the management of the company wants them to be. I think that’s not as simple as we think it to be though, because I think management in China is a little different than we in the US.

My brother in law works for a large lighting company, Their products are sold at Home Depot and other stores and their commercials used to be voiced by Gene Hackman. Brother in law works in quality control. Also happens to be fluent in Mandarin. So guess who got sent to China for 3 years as a quality control manager to improve the quality of the products sent for sale to the US?

He spent his time touring various factories explaining that the products being shipped to the US did not meet the various quality and durability standards that we expect here and asked for improvement. At one factory, he noticed that 40% of their output did not meet their initial standards–much less the lighting company’s–and went straight to scrap. 40%!

A year or so later he noted a marked improvement in the product sent to the US from this factory. He returned to them to find out what changes they had implemented, in order to share them with other producers and improve the quality of all the products. He was told that there was no change in production. That the only change was tightening up inspection standards and that now 60% of the product failed initial inspection.

I have a box of Chinese made vehicle fuses sitting in my closet. The reason that they are there is to remind me that they are dangerous. My wife bought them and put several in her older Old’s Ciera. A few hours later she complained of a smoky smell in her car. When I looked under the dash…a couple of the fuses were dangling as they had melted instead of blowing like they should have. This is just one example. I know that the Chinese can produce excellent products but I also know that they can produce junk…dangerous junk on occasion.

I have no doubt that eventually Chinese cars will be commonplace. Early Korean cars were pathetic (Hyundai Pony of 1986) but hey improved rapidly. I would not hesitate to buy a Chinese made Toyota, but GM is a laggard in design and build excellence. You need both and a tight control (Six Sigma) over your suppliers.

Haier TVs and fridges are all-Chinese products. Early ones caught fire and had all sorts of problems, but they are improving. A low end Kenmore fridge from Sears is a Haier. Hisense TVs are Chinese products and selling quite well. I will stick with Panasonic for the time being.

It’s important to note that the V.P. of purchasing for IBM lives in … China!

As a local, I’ve bought an electric fan that crapped out in the middle of a summer night. OTOH, I’m using an expensive by Chinese standard, induction stove for more than 3 years. And get this, I bought a Chinese badged car three years ago that requires nothing more than regular maintenance thus far. I can’t say this about the Saturn that we had in the 90s. As long as you’re not dead set on buying the cheapest stuff available, you can get quality made in China products; my car was twice as expensive as the cheapest brand new car that I could have bought.

The problem is a majority of Chinese people who lived in poverty had lived with inferior quality stuff for years and they have accepted that as a reality. When something breaks, you either repair it yourself or throw it away. Superficial blemishes that don’t affect the function of the product is non issue. Those who export these inferior products just don’t understand the needs of oversea markets, which leads to the stigma against made in China products. The Koreans learned their lessons. Some Chinese companies have as well, producing cars that pass European crash tests with flying colors. As a consumer, you have to carefully choose who you do business with.

In other news, you may see Chinese airliners in the future, once they obtain FAA certification.

@asemaster, I used to work in quality control in a rotary compressor plant. We had a lot of rework, and the main reason was that manufacturing played cops and robbers. They built anything to meet their production targets, and it was up to us to catch them and stop them from hurting themselves. Upper management made the problem worse by blaming QA for high rework costs. The problem was playing cops and robbers, as well as another management practice. The CEO micromanaged his divisions. We had a problem of the month, and all attention was diverted to beating it down. Last month’s problem was ignored unless it was this month’s #1 problem. This meant that we rarely solved problems, just made them less intolerable until they became the problem of the month again. On the positive side, I learned a lot about the nuts and bolts of rotary compressor manufacturing. You learn a lot when things go wrong if you try to understand the problem in order to fix it. I eventually became the go-to guy for all the chemical operations (cleaning, coating, painting) and machining operations. It could have been a good job, except for the constant threats from upper management to move to Mississippi, South Carolina, Georgia, or South America.

In the fifties, when in college, I was a member of the Camera Club. My fellow members had German, Swedish (Hasselblad) or US made cameras such as Kodak, Bell & Howell, Speed Graphic, Argus. I was the butt of jokes by having a Japanese 35 mm camera. However, it had a gold seal stuck on it that said “Inspected by the Japanese camera Institute”. The government realized that to get Japanese products accepted they had to have quality and DEMANDED a thorough inspection of all that left the country.

The camera lasted from 1958 till 1980 when I bough another Japanese camera, a Pentax Super ME, which was my last film camera.

“The camera lasted from 1958 till 1980 when I bough another Japanese camera, a Pentax Super ME, which was my last film camera”.

I was into photography at one point. I had (and still have) a Yashika (knock-off Rolliflex) , an Argus C-3, a Nikon, and some Cannon Rebels, but I remember wanting a Kowa-Six, I believe it was. I think it was an aisan version of the very expensive Hasselblad.

All of those cameras are excellent.


Interesting discussion.
I asked my question about skepticism because I view this similar to public sentiment of companies like Honda, Toyota, Subaru, etc back in the ~70s. Will the Chinese cars have a rocky start, perhaps. But there’s a good chance 10 years from now we’ll have another reliable brand to choose from.