If the 2009 Shanghai motor show has proved one thing, it’s that it’s time to take the Chinese car industry seriously.
The products are now almost uniformly convincing, the reliance on joint-venture products and hand-me-down platforms is dwindling ever more rapidly, and copycat designs are no longer commonplace. There’s only one remaining stumbling block to Chinese companies becoming serious global players, and that’s branding.
It’s understandable, to an extent, that western eyes and ears are going to be troubled by such an alien language and culture, but the Chinese makers will have to deal with this obstacle if they are to become serious forces outside of their domestic market.
JAC, for instance, showed a very credible Mondeo-sized saloon, but it, as far as we can make out, is called the JAC HFC7240. However you spin it, this is not a catchy name. And although the Great Wall Coolbear (pictured above) seems like a genuinely with-it rival to the Scion xB or Nissan Cube, that name sounds more like a 1970s soul singer than a youth-oriented MPV.