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By Mac Gordon, CBU/CAR Detroit Correspondent
One photo available
Mexico City – China’s FAW Car Co. has completed 12 of the 30 stand-alone dealerships it is building in Mexico this year for sale of the F1, F4 and F5 subcompact cars exported from the Xiali plant in Tianjin.
Approximately 2,500 cars are targeted for sale in 2008, with the number expected to grow “substantially” in 2009, according to FAW spokesman Dan McCosh, Jr.
“As the first vehicles from China on sale in North America,” says Mexico City-based McCosh, “we were delighted by the positive reaction we’ve had from the dealers. Waiting lists at the stores are growing steadily.”
As of late October, FAW was still exporting 2008 models to Mexico, but expects 2009 models to arrive early next year. McCosh said the 2009s will be “little changed” from the 2008s.
The FAW outlets are located at Elektra superstores operated throughout Mexico by Grupo Salinas. There are close to 1,000 Elektra stores, which resemble Wal-Marts and maintain service stations where FAW cars can be maintained and repaired.
McCosh said FAW plans to sell cars at about 300 Elektra stores, as the Chinese company proceeds with construction of a car assembly plant in central Mexico. The plant is due for completion during the 2010-model year.
FAW is selling three F-series models in Mexico, whose population exceeds 107 million. The F1 is a stripped hatchback and sedan, priced at about $7,000. The mid-range F4 sedan has more chrome trim and carries a suggested price of $8,500. Topping out the lineup is the F5 with a hatchback and sedan priced at $10,000 with such items as air conditioning, cruise control and “premier” seats.
Financing for purchasers is being handled by the Elektra stores through Grupo Salinas.
McCosh said several U.S. auto shows have inquired about exhibiting FAW F-series cars, but there are no plans to do so in 2009.
Toyota has assisted FAW in engineering the Mexico-bound cars, McCosh said.
In China, FAW’s joint venture plants with Toyota assemble several Toyota brands – Corolla compacts; a Yaris variant called the Vios; Crown and Reiz upscale sedans; hybrid Prius sedans; and Land Cruiser SUVs. F-series cars are sized between Toyota’s Corolla and the subcompact Yaris.
FAW Group, which sold more than 1.2 million light vehicles in 2007, is headquartered in Changchu, Jilin Province.