What is made in China is well made? BAIC and JAC, the two Chinese automakers that arrived in Mexico during the last year deal with this scepticism from consumers on a daily basis.
After FAW’s failed incursion into Mexico 10 years ago, the Mexican market was left with a “bad taste” due to the low quality of the cars and the low availability of spare parts.
Not to repeat history, the two Chinese brands that just arrived in Mexico, did it with Mexican partners interested in opening dealerships throughout the country. Overcoming the stigma of ‘poor quality’ has not been easy though.
“People come with a lot of apprehension, they think they’re going to buy something bad, poor quality. They pull the handles and move the facias to see if they are going to break, “said Eugenia Solís, commercial manager of Grupo Zapata, one of the groups that sells the JAC brand.
BAIC, arrived in October 2016 with Grupo Picacho, a Mexican distributor of the Ford, Mazda, Jaguar and Lincoln brands. Since its arrival it opened 10 dealerships in Mexico City, Querétaro and Estado de México where it has sold 670 units of its D20 and X35 models.
That sales figure contrasts with the 1,499 cars that South Korea’s KIA sold in July 2015, its first month of sales in the country, while Hyundai managed to market 705 units in May 2014, its first month of release.
JAC, who arrived in Mexico with Carlos Slim, has only sold 50 units in its first month and a half. “They seem few, but to be an unknown brand and not positioned, we feel it is a good number,” Solis said.
JAC came with an initial offer of two models, a crossover and an SUV. Its first model, the SEI2, seeks to serve a relatively untested segment by the industry: that of students or young people who just entered the job market, and who are looking for a crossover as their first car.
The price of models of this type, typically start at around 300,000 pesos. JAC is attacking this market with SEI2, which retails at 259,000 pesos.