Visionary Vehicles LLC, the company formed by automotive entrepreneur Malcolm Bricklin to sellAutomobile Co. Ltd. Chinese cars in the U.S., may show a concept vehicle at April’s New York International Auto Show.
A Visionary spokeswoman tells Ward’s an official decision fromon whether to have a presence in New York is expected in mid-January.
“We are very seriously looking at New York,” the spokeswoman says, noting the timing is not right for Visionary to display a concept at January’s North American International Auto Show in Detroit or February’s Chicago Auto Show.
“As much as we love those auto shows as a market, we don’t want to be rushing to make an auto show,” she says.
Chery’s show car likely will be “something totally new,” she says, “one of our concept cars.” If not, it likely would be the Pininfarina SpA-designed Chery M14 retractable hardtop convertible, which won best of show at last spring’s Shanghai auto show.
The Chinese government has yet to approve a joint venturebetween Visionary and Chery. However, the spokeswoman expects approval to come before year-end. The process has been slower than expected due Chery’s negotiations with DaimlerChrysler AG, as well as other potential partners.
She insists a pact between Chery and DC would not derail Bricklin’s plans. Such a deal would reflect positively on Visionary, she says, because of DaimlerChrysler’s global stature.
Visionary plans to launch sales of Chery vehicles in the U.S. in late 2008 or early 2009, rather than its original target of 2007. Bricklin first announced his intentions in January 2005.
“Initially, we were looking at five models on one platform,” Marianne McInerney, head of dealer development for Visionary, tells Ward’s.
“The lineup has expanded,” she says. “It’s now 10 vehicles (on) three different platforms. It’s a direction our dealers wanted us to go, and it’s quite exciting.”
The new platforms will be North American-specific, she says. However, Chery will have the right to modify and sell the models in China and elsewhere, if it so chooses. Visionary will not see any revenue from overseas markets.
McInerney says U.S. dealers continue to show interest in purchasing territories from Visionary.
“We have 50 (territories) accounted for, and we have another 80 dealer groups that are looking at another 100,” she says. “That’s probably a little bit low, because many are looking at more than one territory.”
The Visionary spokeswoman says there are 250 territories in total. But there will not be 250 Visionary dealers, as originally planned, because many dealers have purchased multiple territories.
“We have one guy who has eight territories,” she says, noting most dealers have between two and four.