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What are you looking forward to seeing at the 2009 NAIAS?

Concept vehicles
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China and the Future of Global Auto Manufacturing

PHOTO BY JASON RZUCIDLO / AMERICAJR.com

Warren Buffet has ordered 50 e6 electric cars by BYD.

by Mike Wrathell
mwrathell@yahoo.com

 

DETROIT -- As bitter cold gripped Detroit in the midst of an even more bitter global economic crisis with our Motor City as its nadir, Pluto is looking pretty good, but the Auto Show comes in a not-so-distant second. With that in mind, I attended a half-day seminar sponsored by China Business Update and China Automotive Review magazine at Cobo Center on Wednesday, January 14, 2009.

Representatives from two of China's largest auto manufacturers were there: BYD and Brilliance Auto. Both have displays on the main floor of the show! They have some sharp-looking cars, too, and they run on cats, I mean, gas and electricity, did I say cats? I meant gas. Gas.

Joking aside, Chinese cars are for real. In fact, Warren Buffett, one of President Obama's boys, just bought 10% of BYD, China's # 2 automaker. BYD stands for "Build Your Dreams." BYD's e6, a purely electric car, is going to try the US market quite soon. Mr. Buffett is having 50 of them sent over in May and his board members at Berkshire Hathaway have to test drive them for a spell. Can I have one, too?

BYD also makes Dual Mode (DM) cars that go up to 100 miles on electricty before switching over to gasoline power. BYD is in the process of making charging stations so they can go anywhere. They know more about batteries than anyone. They make 15% of the cellphone batteries in the world. BYD started out in 1995 as a battery maker. Now they have an iron, or ferrous, battery that costs less than a lithium battery. The e6 has this iron battery, and they don't explode, either. BYD plans to be the #1 automaker in the world by 2025. The world's oil will run out in 2050, so they are well-positioned. Toyota bought one of their cars and took it apart to figure out how they could make it so cheap. And if Warrren Buffett is investing in them, that is pretty good, huh? BYD might also hook up with one of the Big Two to enter the North American market more smoothly.

Brilliance Auto Group also makes some very nice-looking cars. The M1 is a business sedan. The M2 is a Porshe-supported sedan, and the M3 is a sporty sedan. Brilliance was founded in 1991 in a joint venture with BMW. The Houston Rockets team in the NBA are owned by Rocket Capital, which has plans to market Brilliance cars in the USA and Canada in the next few years. What do you think of cat? I mean, that! Maybe the Pistons should be told right before their next game with the Rockets, huh?

But you can't blame China for wanting a piece of the pie. I like pie, too. There are now 180 million motor vehicles in China. Only 3 million are not made in China. Thirty-one out of 1000 Chinese own a motor vehicle. It is a good thing China is offering incentives for developing electric cars. GM should have had the Volt out already, and at a fraction of its cost. I saw "Tucker" a few weeks ago and I think healthy competition is a good thing. Of course, I think every nation has the right to protect its domestic manufacturers, too. It is a fine balance, like a cat walking on a window ledge.

"The auto industry in China has become a big driver of the economy, a pillar industry," explained Mr. Lei Xing, Executive Managing Editor of China Automotive Review. In this global economy we are in, we need China to be strong, too. If China needed to call us out on all the money we owe them, they could foreclose on us, in fact. And instead of Who's on first, Hu would be on first, second, third, pitcher, catcher, and the outfield. And maybe even in your home.

Mutual respect is the only way to world peace and global prosperity. Intolerance brings war, terrorism, and costs a lot of money. There is an environmental cost, too. We must tolerate the tolerant. China and Westerndom are on the same side of The War on Terror and on economic prosperity. Cat jokes aside, we need to be on the same page. We can have respectful disagreements on Tibet and other subjects, but we need to be able to drink tea together like friends.

Regarding Tibet, I say let China have Taiwan, with permanent Hong Kong-style freedoms, and allow Tibet its former autonomy, allowing for security concerns to be addressed. The Chinese and Tibetan peoples have their own destinies, their own dreams. Let's make a deal and put an end to that strife. Mao Tse-tung's mother was a Buddhist, and so a healthy respect of Tibetan Buddhism should not be such a big deal for the Chinese government. Religions that tolerate should be tolerated in all nations. It is the ones that want to kill, conquer, or enslave the infidel that are the problem. We need to get past the Tibet question. China has one of the oldest cultures in the world. I have read some of the great books of China and been inspired by them. I studied world literature in college, and China should respect Tibet's culture enough to pull out and let them be. Tibet is not a threat to China. Then together we can try to resolve all other international disputes. Peace on Earth is possible, but only with China and the USA on the same page.

Once again, sorry for all the cat jokes, but at least I didn't say Meow Tse-tung! Oooops!

 

PHOTO BY JASON RZUCIDLO / AMERICAJR.com

The Brilliance FRV is on display at the NAIAS.

 

PHOTO BY JASON RZUCIDLO / AMERICAJR.com

A look at the rear of the Brilliance FRV.

 

PHOTO BY JASON RZUCIDLO / AMERICAJR.com

BYD says its e6 electric car can go 250 miles on a single charge.

 

PHOTO BY JASON RZUCIDLO / AMERICAJR.com

A look under the hood of the Brilliance M1 sedan.

 

 

 

:: Return to Our Coverage of the 2009 NAIAS ::

 

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This page was last updated on Tue, January 20, 2009 11:04 PM

 

 

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