GM has issued some extraordinary statements about the menace of Chinese products to vehicles produced in Brazil and Argentina.

Ray Young, president of GM of Brazil and Mercosur operations, said "quality is not the highlight, but they will quickly evolve, judging from what I have seen in a recent trip to China".

Price remains the Chinese cars' greatest attraction, he added.

Felipe Rovera, who has run GM in Argentina, admitted that GM's Chile subsidiary has recently replaced imports of the Rosario-built Corsa Classic with a similar, but much lower cost, car imported from GM China.

"Competing on equal terms in a huge market like Brazil's, where it is essential to invest in distribution and service networks to build up credibility, is a thorny mission," he told just-auto.

Meanwhile, Brazilian group Effa Motors has started selling the subcompact Changhe M100 this month for a price almost identical to the Brazil-built Fiat Mille [an updated 1980s Uno -ed] - the most affordable car here - but the Chinese newcomer is far better equipped.

However, Fiat won the first round by putting pressure on the importer to change the Ideal nameplate due to its similarity with the Italian automaker's own Idea.

Three Chinese-made Chana models have also been on the Brazilian market for two months.

On the other hand, the joint venture between Argentina's Socma and Chery to start production in Uruguay is running at a slower pace than announced earlier and there is little information available about when assembly of the compact Tiggo SUV and subcompact QQ will start.

Only the former seems to be confirmed for late 2008.

Fernando Calmon

Auto market intelligence
from just-auto

• Auto component fitment forecasts
• OEM & tier 1 profiles & factory finder
• Analysis of 30+ auto technologies & more