Chinese Automaker Zotye Planning to Sell SUVs in US by 2020

Maker, which partners with Ford in China, doesn't specific what SUV.

by on Nov.13, 2018

Could this be Zotye's first entry in the U.S. market in 2020? An SUV will be first, the company said today.

The race to be first is getting tighter as a new contestant has entered the fray: Zotye Automotive says it will begin selling SUVs in the U.S. in 2020.

Zotye sells several SUV models in China, but did not reveal which one it plans to export to the U.S. Until today, it was best known as one of Ford Motor Co’s partners in China, but the two companies are not working together on this project, according to officials on both sides.

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The Chinese firm is establishing its U.S. sales and distribution arm in Lake Forest, California, and plans to sell vehicles in the United States through franchised dealers. Zotye USA is owned by HAAH Automotive Holdings, headed by President and Chief Executive Duke Hale, who has held top spots at several automotive import companies.

“I am beyond thrilled to make this announcement, the result of more than four years of discussions and negotiations with the Zotye in China.  With the agreement, we have begun setting up a franchised dealer network to handle sales and service in America.  We’ve had discussions with several major dealers already and will have more to say about that in the months to come,” said Hale.

(Ford signs on for new EV venture in China. Click Here for the story.)

The company isn’t the first Chinese car company to set its sights on U.S. shores. BYD, which is owned in part by Berkshire Hathaway’s Warren Buffett, has been claiming it would be setting up a full-service operation for years.

Guangzhou Automobile Group debuted a new vehicle at last year’s North American International Auto Show, claiming it had been working for two years to bring a vehicle to the U.S. It established an R&D Center last April in Silicon Valley to develop intelligent vehicle systems, driverless cars and other new energy vehicle technologies.

However, it said it would need more resources in the U.S. to meet its own 2020 deadline for vehicles in the U.S., and spent $4.4 million for a second R&D space in Farmington Hills, Michigan.

(Click Here for more about Chinese automakers eyeing international roles.)

GAC, which was founded in 1997, is the fifth-largest auto company in China. It produces cars through joint ventures with foreign and American automakers and plans to enter the U.S. market with its GS8, a midsize SUV already for sale in China, in 2019 or 2020.

Ford and Zotye agreed to a $750 million deal earlier this year to work together on electric vehicles for sale in China. The vehicle were expected to be lower-priced electric vehicles designed to appeal to a mass buying audience.

However, the deal is a one-way street.

(For more about GAC’s plans to be first to sell a Chinese-branded vehicle in the U.S., Click Here.)

“There is no current plan for Zotye USA to sell EVs in the U.S. market,” Zotye spokesman Chris Hosford said told Reuters via email today.

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