Will Finns buy Chinese cars?

People know next to nothing about Chinese cars in Finland. China is however world’s largest automobile manufacturer with more than 18 million passenger cars produced annually, although only a quarter of these are completely Chinese design.

But can the Chinese cars find buyers in Finland?

Chinese cars will automatically be compared to their Far East counterparts, Japanese and Koreans, when it comes to image. Chinese consumer goods still have reputation of being poor quality junk in peoples’ minds. People usually don’t perceive or understand how large part of everything on sale and found at home is actually made in China.

It was the same with the notions about Japanese products just over fifty years ago, when the Japanese first invaded Europe with their cars. Autokeskus, importer of Datsun, for example drove their cars down a ski jump hill and let technology students try to break them to prove the longevity of the cars. It didn’t take long until “Made in Japan” became a guarantee for quality in cars and other consumer products. Today Japanese car manufacturers have such strong brands that their sales are not anymore based upon price or origin.

Korean cars weren’t big sellers in depression-hit Finland in 1990’s much due to relatively poor quality and unappealing, dated looks of the cars. Koreans took the feedback from different markets seriously and started developing their cars with resolution and a decade later the quality already surpassed that of many European manufacturers. Today Korean cars are not anymore considered as “those poor copies of Japanese cars”.

What will the Chinese have to do to sell their cars here? They have had time to refine the cars to match the European taste and according to car show reports, also the quality seems to be adequate including the looks. But everyone who is interested in cars remembers those ill-fated crash tests of the earlier models and the reputation received from those tests hinder sales even in the domestic market. Even the Chinese don’t want them and buy European and Japanese instead.

If the Chinese really can fix the safety issue in all of their cars —like they have with the Qoros car already for sale in Slovakia— completing with a vigorous safety and quality themed marketing strategy, they could get a foothold in the Finnish market, where there’s always demand for basic everyday-use cars. Finnish consumers in general buy more boring cars than consumers in many other countries in Europe. Same with the Chinese; like Finns they also prefer traditional models and for example prefer “obsolete” saloon models with a separate boot instead of multipurpose hatchbacks. This could prove to be a marketing advantage in Finland.

One way or the other, it is not going to be easy to penetrate the Finnish market without something with which to stand out. It will be interesting to see how the Finnish car people adopt the newcomers, if they finally make it here.

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4 Responses to Will Finns buy Chinese cars?

  1. loch1912 says:

    The term “Made in China” brings emotional expressions to consumers. It could be positive, it could be negative. Apple has their manufactory in China for assembling process. They found out that they could save money thank to a large numbers of workers with cheaper paychecks. That is the advantage of products from China: the speed. But the quality is another story, not everything in China can last long like iPhone cause there will be fake stuffs also. It brings a question about their cars, will all the pieces are high-quality enough to reach EU’s market. If companies could fix the problem about trust and put consumers as the first priority, I think they would be successful one day.

  2. KiHoonKim says:

    As you know, in every respect, China has developed into a frightening speed.
    The same is true of automotive technology. Even China acquired the car company in South Korea to promote their technology. Now, the important issue is not the technology. The problem is that the automobile market is already saturated, and has a lot of competitors.
    Naturally, People buy cars depending on the brand awareness. Therefore, the most urgent issue is to change people’s perceptions. As you mentioned, “Made in China” means unreliable quality in customers’ mind so far. If this perception problem is handled, Chinese cars will be able to succeed in Finland.

  3. Hello,

    It is pretty true that what comes first into mind when we talk about China and its manufacturing is ” Made in China”, and I have to say that to me it doesn’t sound like something positive. It means something that has been manufacturing for a very low price so obviously the quality won’t be stick to the product.
    It might be hard for the Chinese manufacturers to export cars to Finland. Indeed, I always learnt that it is very hard once people have a bad image of a brand or of a market, to take it out of their minds.
    Another example, Chinese car crash testing hasn’t been very successful and it might not help the Fins to feel like buying a car coming from China, indeed they would rather put a bit more money but make sure the car safety is well set.

  4. I’m quite sure Chinese cars will be a success in Finnish market if they come with great volume and prove themselves in central Europe too. We need cost effective and reliable cars which can handle winter conditions, everything else is considered as bonus.

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