HANGZHOU, China (
) -- Please welcome China to the global automotive stage.
This will be no cameo appearance, but the beginning of a new act for the automotive industry as U.S. dominance fades and Japan faces its first new threat in decades.
The Koreans will no longer be the low-price leaders. Europeans may continue to play supporting roles with their luxury and flair, but China will be the new star.
Zheijang Geely Holding Group's
is just the beginning. While
Beijing Automotive Industry Holdings
may not get its hands on
, you can be sure they're still looking for a global brand to buy.
As China grabs the spotlight, we're bound to see some new drama. If Geely can apply China's famous low-cost production to a luxury brand like Volvo without diluting its cache, this could be a game changer.
should be nervous about the prospect of a lower-priced Chinese-made Volvo.
It's no wonder that
is building a new plant in China (a classic strategy to challenge rivals in their home markets in the hopes of slowing their push into your own key markets).
A Chinese Volvo may not be an obvious threat to super luxury brands like
, but it does pretty much confine them to their high price points. The Germans didn't fare too well in their previous efforts to go mass market anyway -- that's how
ended up in the hands of Italy's
after Daimler gave up.
Those who doubt that Geely can succeed where Ford failed are underestimating China's global economic power.
The stage is set.
--Written by Glenn Hall in New York.
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