Useful Car Tips

New Car Companies Coming to the US

June 25, 2019
Domestic automotive brands in the United States continue to sell well, with the big three—GM, Ford, and Chrysler—commanding a major sales presence in the auto industry, even despite total car sales figures experiencing a staggering decline over a period of just four years. According to figures from Statista, a German online portal for statistics, car sales plummeted from a total of 7.9 million units sold in 2014 to just 5.3 million units sold throughout 2018. While the sales of cars have vastly decreased, light truck sales have increased from 8.7 million units sold in 2014 to almost 12 million units sold in 2018. Despite these decreasing sales figures, major companies have unveiled plans to enter the US auto market in the coming future, with notable entries from Peugeot and several upcoming Chinese companies making headlines. Competition is always good for industry and the resurgence of new brands means not only more options for us, as consumers, but better options in terms of technology, safety, and fuel economy, among many other metrics.


Groupe PSA—the automotive conglomerate manufacturing the Citroën, DS, and Peugeot marques, among many others—made headlines in early 2019 when it was announced that the Peugeot brand would be returning to North America after a 28-year hiatus. The brand, which is a staple in its native Europe, manufactures a slew of hatchbacks as well as several crossovers and vans. While the CEO and President of PSA North America, Larry Dominique, has indicated that the brand will likely sell in a more limited capacity than its competitors, the return of Peugeot marks a major change to the automotive industry in North America. Reportedly with 15 states and four Canadian provinces in mind for the sale of its vehicles, we’ll likely see Peugeot vehicles on our roads in the near future, although which vehicles will be on sale remains to be seen.


You may have noticed we’re cheating a little here, as Alfa Romeo actually marked its return to the US over 10 years ago, in 2008, with the launch of the 8C Competizione coupe. However, the nature of the vehicle, being a bonafide sports car with a limited production run of 500 coupes and convertibles (with just 90 units coming to US shores), meant that this Alfa occupied a very niche market segment. Similarly, Alfa launched the 4C two-seater coupe sports car in 2014, filling a narrow niche. While not limited in production number, this tiny Alfa with its lack of power steering, cramped interior, and harsh ride appeals to a very narrow segment of consumers; essentially just those looking for a “raw” sports car with few compromises. Further developments occurred in 2017 with the introduction of the Giulia sports sedan to the US market and rave reviews of the range-topping Giulia Quadrifoglio, which frequently bested its German competitors (already on sale in the US) in tests by major automotive publications. Indeed, the Giulia received the award of Motor Trend Car of the Year by the popular Motor Trend magazine. Alfa’s presence in the North American market was bolstered by the introduction of the Stelvio in 2016, Alfa’s first SUV. It posted sales of about 43,000 units in 2018, a large piece of the puzzle helping to compromise Alfa’s 98% sales growth in the United States versus the previous year. While the 4C coupe has ceased production as of 2019, Alfa must keep its momentum going. The company has tentatively established plans to bring four new vehicles to the market: a new 8C in 2022, the GTV coupe based on the Giulia sedan, the Kamal three-row crossover, and a as-yet-unnamed compact crossover to compete against luxury offerings from German competitors. The Giulia is also reportedly due for a refresh in 2020. In short, Alfa aims to continue its success in the US market and its plans to introduce new vehicles means the brand is here to stay.


Zotye? If you weren’t sure how to pronounce the name at first, you weren’t alone (it’s pronounced Zoh-tay). The up and coming automaker hailing from Yongkang, Zhejiang, China has expressed its desire to be the first domestic Chinese car company to sell in America, planning to do so within about 18 months, as of June 2019. Its first product aimed at the US market debuted in April 2019 at the Auto Shanghai car show; the T600, a compact crossover with Honda’s CR-V and Nissan’s Rogue in its sights. Zotye’s strategy to ensure sales appears to be a low starting price, up to 20% less than the competition according to an industry veteran working for Zotye by the name of Duke Hale. While their ultimate success—and frankly, their ability to execute their plan and sell vehicles in the US within 18 months—remains to be seen, they may prove to be yet another addition to the US auto industry. Zotye’s ambitions represent attempts by other Chinese automakers such as BYD, Geely, and Great Wall, to penetrate the US auto industry. In the next decade, we may yet see these cars on our roads.


The return of Peugeot and Alfa Romeo alone mark a major shift in the auto industry in the United States. At present, Alfa’s Giulia goes toe to toe with its more established German and American rivals, and its Stelvio does the same. Peugeot will soon begin selling vehicles in North America, vehicles which will undoubtedly compete with domestic and import marques alike and drive each competitor to perfect its offerings, moving the industry forward as a whole. Finally, Chinese automakers may make their debut on America’s shores after years of posturing. Zotye may be leading the charge, and other manufacturers like BYD, Geely, and Great Wall may soon follow. The future is bright for the US auto industry, and with more competition on the market, we all win as consumers. In 10 years, you might even have a shiny new Peugeot, Alfa, or Zotye parked right in your driveway.
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