Newspaper article Evening Gazette (Middlesbrough, England)

V60 - Safety in a Chinese Takeaway

Newspaper article Evening Gazette (Middlesbrough, England)

V60 - Safety in a Chinese Takeaway

Article excerpt


LAST weekend, beneath the embers of a dying summer sun and an overflight by the international space station, 16 million vehicles took to our roads to "enjoy" the bank holiday. Proof positive that motoring is alive, if unwell. In fact an extra 35 million cars hit the streets last year, 14 million of them in China, bringing the communist state's total car park to 74 million. Plus some bicycles.

However, the US remains both the car capital of the planet, with 239 million vehicles, and the home of Dolly Parton.

Bring these outstanding statistics together and the bottom line is Sweden.

Let me explain. Both Ford and GM have recently sold out Scandinavian interests, at Volvo and Saab, to Chinese investors. On the face of it there seems little to attract the Americans in either company in the first place.

Saab, for instance, has enjoyed a reputation as a fighter plane manufacturer, hardly a selling point in the home of the F16. Neither is being the most under-used air force in the world. But then why go to war when you can depress your enemies to death with episodes of Wallander? Ford buying into Gothenburg made more sense. Certainly Michigan has its own moose and while Swedish salmon are extremely tasty, Lake Superior's are both bigger and more prolific. However at point of purchase in 1999 Ford's luxury car in Europe was the Scorpio, hardly the first choice of an AB demographic. Or indeed anyone familiar with what letter comes next in the alphabet.

Instant access to Islington is not without its commercial attractions to new owners Geely but in truth it is all about the burgeoning Chinese luxury car market. Cheaper to buy quality off the peg for home assembly. Sort of Ikea for Asia.

Online video compilations of Chinese domestic products undergoing the NCAP front impact test suggest another reason. …

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