Who wants to drive a Hover Wingle?

Almost exactly two years ago, the first Chinese-made car—the Landwind New Vision—arrived for sale in Western Europe. Since then, other Chinese car makers have followed suit and tried their luck in cracking the European auto market. Peter Bijvelds, the first Dutch car dealer to sell the Landwind, has been brutally honest about the car’s characteristics: ...

600641_070712_hoverwingle_05.jpg
600641_070712_hoverwingle_05.jpg

Almost exactly two years ago, the first Chinese-made car—the Landwind New Vision—arrived for sale in Western Europe. Since then, other Chinese car makers have followed suit and tried their luck in cracking the European auto market.

Peter Bijvelds, the first Dutch car dealer to sell the Landwind, has been brutally honest about the car's characteristics: "The work is really pretty bad.... The motor is also a little bit weak." In its first German automobile club crash test, the chances of the driver's survival were found to be roughly zero. Still, the fact that the Landwind is 40 percent cheaper than its European competitors has been enough to ensure its success. Bijvelds sold 500 cars in the first two weeks. As Bijvelds sums it up, Europeans "want a lot of car for a little money."

But although Chinese vehicles such as the hilariously named Hover Wingle (a Chinese SUV now being exporting to Europe, pictured above) are attracting an increasing number of middle-class customers in Europe, their safety doesn't appear to be improving yet. For instance, the new Brilliance BS6, another Chinese model, performed horribly in recent tests—as these alarming videos dramatically illustrate.

Almost exactly two years ago, the first Chinese-made car—the Landwind New Vision—arrived for sale in Western Europe. Since then, other Chinese car makers have followed suit and tried their luck in cracking the European auto market.

Peter Bijvelds, the first Dutch car dealer to sell the Landwind, has been brutally honest about the car’s characteristics: “The work is really pretty bad…. The motor is also a little bit weak.” In its first German automobile club crash test, the chances of the driver’s survival were found to be roughly zero. Still, the fact that the Landwind is 40 percent cheaper than its European competitors has been enough to ensure its success. Bijvelds sold 500 cars in the first two weeks. As Bijvelds sums it up, Europeans “want a lot of car for a little money.”

But although Chinese vehicles such as the hilariously named Hover Wingle (a Chinese SUV now being exporting to Europe, pictured above) are attracting an increasing number of middle-class customers in Europe, their safety doesn’t appear to be improving yet. For instance, the new Brilliance BS6, another Chinese model, performed horribly in recent tests—as these alarming videos dramatically illustrate.

Increasingly, though, Chinese automakers are copying European safety designs and even collaborating with Western brands, including Volkswagen, DaimlerChrysler AG (now Daimler AG) and Volvo. If this trend can help make cars like the Hover Wingle not just affordable, but actually safe to drive, look for “Made in China” vehicles to take the continent by storm.

Prerna Mankad is a researcher at Foreign Policy.

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