LONDON -- Two Chinese automakers will use the UK as a testing ground in a new push into Europe. Geely Automobile and Great Wall Motor will launch inexpensive cars in the UK this year because the companies believe they can benefit from growing demand for low-cost models during tough economic times. The Chinese brands also want to take advantage of a move upscale by South Korea's Hyundai and Kia.
Past attempts by Chinese automakers such as Brilliance and Landwind to gain a foothold in Europe failed when their vehicles received poor ratings in safety tests.
This time, the newcomers are making sure their cars meet Western safety standards. Geely's Emgrand EC7 compact model recently earned four out of five stars in a crash test by safety organization EuroNCAP.
The Emgrand EC7 will go on sale in the UK by the end of the year. It is similar in size to the Hyundai i30 but prices will start at 10,000 pounds (about 11,800 euros) compared with 13,780 pounds for the i30.
Great Wall will launch its Steed double-cab pickup in the UK this month (March) through a network of 35 dealers. The Steed will cost 13,998 pounds for the standard model, compared with 16,049 pounds for the entry version of the market leader, the Mitsubishi L200 double-cab.