The fact that China is now the world's largest new car market is no longer in dispute. And with the U.S. now relegated to second place, and Europe's economy still in a slump, all eyes are on the Middle Kingdom for sales growth. Although there is healthy demand for high-priced, six-figure luxury imports, including the unlikely Ford F-150 SVT Raptor, the real volume gains are to be made in the more attainable mid-premium segment. To circumvent punishing tariffs on imports, most companies selling cars in China are also producing them locally in conjunction with a local manufacturing partner. The latest to join the ranks is the Acura brand. Last week, Honda announced that it has partnered with the Guangzhou Automobile Group to manufacture an Acura model specifically for China, according to Reuters.
The specific model or type of vehicle has not yet been officially announced, but it's widely believed it will be a production version of the SUV-X concept seen at the Shanghai auto show in April. Whether the model will eventually be exported to markets outside of China is unknown. Currently, no mass-market Chinese-built vehicles are exported to the U.S., but the possibility exists. Chinese-built products used to carry the stigma of being shoddily constructed and poor quality. But the majority of consumer electronics sold in the U.S. are made in China, and have not seemed to hurt their popularity. Whether American consumers are as accepting of a Chinese-built car remains to be seen.