After all the news about toxic toys and contaminated pet-food, are you wary of driving a car with major components made in China? Well too late, you may have already bought one. According to GM, the company has been quietly installing Chinese-made engines in some models of its Chevy Equinox and Pontiac Torrent SUVs since 2005, the first to be offered in the U.S. market.
The engine, built in a joint-venture between GM and the Shanghai Motor Company, was originally meant for Chinese-market Buicks but wound up in the compact SUV as an experiment to try and lower costs. The Equinox was already a highly international car with parts from the U.S., Canada, Japan and China, among others. However buyers had no indication that the car's percentage of Chinese parts included the entire engine. In addition GM also builds the same motor at its Tonawanda, NY plant, making it impossible to know which one you're getting. Currently the Shanghai Motor Company engine is only installed in base Equinoxes, while the higher output motor in more expensive models is American-made.
Given that this switch is only coming to light now and there haven't been any horror-stories of Equinox engines catching fire or throwing rods, expect to see many more Chinese components in your car in the near future. The country's auto part exports totaled $12 billion last year, up from just $2 billion in 2002. Recently spy shots have surfaced of a new compact built by Chery Auto that will be sold on U.S. shores as the Dodge Breeze. If all goes as planned, American cars designed and built entirely in China may soon become the norm.