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Chinese cars no immediate threat to Europe
Updated: 2005-09-14 07:29

The demand in Europe for inexpensive cars has grown as buying power has declined, evidenced by the success of the Logan made by Renault's Dacia division in Romania, which sells for about 8,000 euros.

Still, automobiles "made in China" will have to prove their worth before making a breakthrough in the European market.

"We do not buy a car like a shirt or a plastic toy, even if the price is much cheaper. Switching to Chinese products with unknown brands and uncertain quality is not something that's going to happen tomorrow," said Remi Cornubert, director of the Paris bureau of Mercer Management Consulting.

China's entry into the auto market "is real, but it is not going to immediately become a massive phenomenon in Europe," Cornubert said.

He pointed out that it took Korean car makers Hyundai and Daewoo "a dozen years to make attractive cars with acceptable quality."

Dudenhoeffer does not see "any threat in the short term due to problems with quality and design which are not that exciting," he said. He expects the Chinese to have about 1.5 percent of the European market in 2010.

Chinese car makers have the support of the government in Beijing, as China's ambition is to overtake Germany as the world's third largest automobile producer, after the United States and Japan.

"The Chinese car makers are coming but it will be difficult for them to find a place as quickly as Hyundai did in the past," the president of Japan's Mitsubishi, Osamu Masuko, told journalists.

"Not only because the technologies never stop improving but also because the political climate will not be strongly in its favor," he added, alluding to the recent battle between the European Union and China over textile imports.

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